The Fort Lauderdale Strikers won the first leg of the NASL Semifinal against the Puerto Rico Islanders 3-1 at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 8. The loss was the first all season at home for the Islanders. The Strikers return home to play the second leg of the semifinal on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Lockhart Stadium.
“Obviously we are pleased with the result,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. “We know we have areas to improve upon for the second leg. We know Puerto Rico is going to come in hungry and throw everything at us. We have to be prepared and ready for a battle next week.”
After a first half without many chances the Strikers opened the scoring in the 49th minute when halftime substitution Martin Nunez buried a Lance Laing cross to make it 1-0. Nunez had come on for captain Abe Thompson at halftime after Puerto Rico had limited Thompson to very few touches in the first half.
Fort Lauderdale extended their lead in the 82nd minute when Walter Restrepo took a pass near midfield and dribbled to the top of the Islanders 18-yard box and fired a perfectly placed shot into the top corner of the net. Puerto Rico goalkeeper Ray Burse dove to try to deflect the ball, but it was out of reach.
The Islanders answered right back in the 84th minute to make it 2-1 when Gregory Richardson found Jonathan Fana in the small penalty area where Fana shot far post for the goal. Richardson and Fana were both second half substitutions for the Islanders.
The Strikers added their final goal in the second half stoppage time when a Puerto Rico turnover left Mike Palacio alone in the penalty area. Palacio sent a cross to the far side of the net where Brian Shriver was waiting to pocket his third goal of the playoffs.
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