The Minnesota Stars ended their two-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Saturday night at NSC Stadium.
“Tonight’s a big win for us to remind ourselves that when we compete and play the right way, we can win a lot of games in this league,” Stars head coach Manny Lagos told Alex Hauter of mnstarsfc.com. “I just felt there was some tension after the two losses, and we wanted to play better and start getting results. We were really focused on getting better tonight, and I couldn’t be prouder of the guys for the way they pushed the game at the right times."
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The Stars got the break they needed early on for their recently-struggling offense. Conor Shonosky blocked a Simone Bracalello shot with his arm inside the box in the 17th minute to give Minnesota a penalty kick. Neil Hlavaty's kick was strong and true, blasting the ball into the top of the net to give his team the 1-0 lead. It was Hlavaty's second goal of the season.
The Strikers answered in the 26th minute. Forward Mark anderson delivered a beautiful strike on a free kick from thirty yards out to the corner of the net, beating Stars' keeper Matt VanOekel.
Minnesota retook the lead, and the momentum, for good late in the first half. Bracalello converted on a wonderful diving header to finish Brian Kallman's cross in the 39th minute. It was the first time in the last five games that the Stars have scored multiple goals.
The second half was all Stars. Minnesota came close on multiple opportunities, including a Bracalello opportunity from the right side that was nicely saved by Strikers' Matt Glaeser in net.
Minnesota's defense locked down in the second half, giving the Strikers minimal opportunities to draw level and keeping a firm grasp on the control of the game.
The Stars (5-5-2) still sit in third place in the NASL standings, three points behind the league-leading Puerto Rico Islanders. Minnesota will face the Islanders at home in a Fourth of July bout following a trip to Tampa Bay to take on the Rowdies on Saturday. The Stars dropped a 2-1 decision at home to Tampa on June 16th.