RECAP | Strikers 4, Scorpions 2

Stefano Pinho nets his second hat trick of the season in important Strikers victory
Fort Lauderdale Strikers Staff | Oct 3, 2015

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers returned to the win column in fine fashion on Saturday night with a 4-2 win at Toyota Field in San Antonio. NASL leading scorer Stefano Pinho exploded for three goals, two in the first half, to give him 15 on the year and extend his league lead to four more goals than the next highest scorer, Minnesota United’s Christian Ramirez.

The road decision halts a two-match losing skid and erases a four-match stretch in which Pinho had failed to score a goal.  The victory puts the Strikers in the fourth and final position to make The Championship, the NASL’s four-team postseason tournament, with 34 points in the Combined Standings.  It also evens Fort Lauderdale’s record in 2015 to nine wins and nine losses – 9W-7D-9L.

Stefano opened the scoring 10 minutes into the contest when he maneuvered around two San Antonio defenders and sent a sizzling shot past goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes.

Fewer than five minutes later, Marlon Freitas got into the act when he slammed home a pass from PC for his sixth goal this year.

It was Stefano again in the 40th minute, taking a PC pass from 25 yards out on the counterattack, and sent a hard shot in with his left foot, freezing Fernandes.

It remained 3-0 through halftime, thanks largely to a stellar Fort Lauderdale defense and holding midfielders James Marcelin and Hendry Thomas that snuffed out several Scorpions’ attacks.

The home team got on the board in the 56th minute when Kris Tyrpak scored a debut goal. San Antonio appeared to get back in the game in the 79th minute when Stephen DeRoux reduced the deficit to one goal.

Stefano picked up the hat trick and put the game away fewer than 10 minutes later (86th minute) when substitute Shawn Chin slipped him a pass inside the six-yard box and he slotted home. The hat trick is Stefano’s second this year, the first coming August 29 in a 7-1 win over Indy Eleven.  The three-goal night gives Stefano four games this season in which he’s scored at least two goals.

It also sends him past Mark Anderson for the Strikers’ Modern Era single-season record for goals scored. Stefano now has 15 goals in NASL games, two more than Anderson tallied in all competitive matches in 2012.

“It’s not easy to come and get three points,” Strikers head coach Günter Kronsteiner said. “We did it, and I’m happy with our performance.”

Lionel Brown, who grew up in Margate, was pressed into action after Josh Ford was recalled by Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC. Ford, on loan since May 29 and the starter in the last 16 straight games, was on the Strikers’ team flight Friday morning when Orlando City recalled him following an injury to another of its goalkeepers.  Brown, who has been with Fort Lauderdale for four seasons, earned his first win while starting in net. 

On April 25, Brown came on early in the first half to help the team win at Ottawa. In two 2015 starts prior to tonight, Brown allowed two goals in a tie and defeat (1-0 home loss to Carolina on May 23; 1-1 tie at San Antonio on May 30). Tonight’s game was the fourth NASL game in which Brown has appeared for the Red & Gold against San Antonio in five career league starts.

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