Although there were only two games last weekend, not only were they the two most important games thus far, but also, there was a lot of off-field movement throughout the NASL, making it a very crucial week.
The RailHawks will host the first leg of the 2012 NASL Semifinal Series with Tampa Bay on Saturday, October 6th at 7p.m (video). The team will then travel down to Tampa Bay for the second leg on the following Saturday.
Fans can buy tickets for the October 6th Semifinal match here or by calling the Cruizers Box Office at (919) 459-8144.
Amir Lowery scored his first NASL goal of the season and the ever-exciting Tiyi Shipalane scored two of his own to carry the RailHawks to victory (photos). Lowery first got on the board in the 34th minute on an assist from Jason Garey.
Shipalane extended the lead just after halftime, but the Strikers were not ready to back down. Abe Thompson put the Strikers back in the game in the 61st minute, but Shipalane finished off the game with a great defense-splitting assist from Brian Shriver. His second goal is up for NASL Play of the Week.
After the weekend, Thompson announced his retirement from professional soccer, making his goal against the RailHawks his last in an illustrious career.
In the other Semifinal Series, Minnesota will host the first leg of their matchup against the Scorpions on Saturday night and then travel down to San Antonio for the second match on the following Sunday.
The Stars traveled down to Puerto Rico for their Quarterfinal match last Sunday and upset their hosts by pulling out a 2-1 victory.
Three years had gone by and the Stars had never won in Puerto Rico, but they figured out how to do it at just the right time. Armani Walker and Miguel Ibarra scored for the Stars and David Foley responded for the Islanders, but his effort was not enough to gain a victory.
Each of the Semifinals will be a home-and-home series, with the winner being determined by aggregate score.
Off the field a lot of other action also took place. First of all, the Soccer Bowl Trophy has been touring the playoff cities and has reached the Triangle. The Soccer Bowl spent the end of the week visiting high profile places in the area and will be on display at the Semifinal at WakeMed Soccer Park on October 6th.
In the most recent off the field news, NASL Commissioner David Downs announced that he is stepping down from his role after the conclusion of the 2012 and the naming of his successor. Downs was an integral part of establishing the league, and he believes that he is leaving it in a good place.
“I’m so proud of what the NASL has accomplished in just its first two seasons and am confident that this league has a great future in the North American soccer landscape,” said Commissioner Downs.
This news came only days after a very upbeat interview with the New York Times, surprising many.
Also, more league awards were handed out with Tampa Bay’s Ricky Hill earning the inaugural NASL Coach of the Year, as determined by media and soccer writers nationwide.
The September NASL Player of the Month was also awarded, going to Matt Horth. Despite being knocked out of playoffs, Horth and the Silverbacks put up an impressive undefeated run in September, with Horth scoring four goals.
And in case you missed in, Washington Post reported on a deal to build a baseball-soccer stadium in Northern Virginia that was just announced, instigating talks of a future NASL team.
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