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Stars vs. Puerto Rico: Stars Lead 2-0 At Half, Not 1-0, For Once

The Stars are in the fourth game of a four-game homestand - and so far, every game had followed a familiar script: possession dominance for Minnesota in the first half, capped off by one early goal and a handful of missed chances, leading to a 1-0 halftime lead that the team eventually relinquished.

The Stars can be thankful that particular streak is over, though, as Nate Polak and Miguel Ibarra both scored in the first half against Puerto Rico, giving Minnesota a 2-0 halftime lead.

It was the fifteenth minute when Polak, making his first professional start, scored his first professional goal. Polak managed to control a Jamie Watson cross at the top of the area and turn, leaving the defender on the wrong side of goal. From there, Polak took a touch, then drove the ball into the lower-right corner for the game's first goal.

Just before the interval, Ibarra put the Stars into a position they haven't had in some time - a 2-0 lead. Ibarra got loose behind the defense, but could not get a good shot away as he was being harassed from behind and ahead. In the ensuing scramble, the ball popped to the corner, where Polak picked it up and drove along the end line. His cross was turned goalwards by Amani Walker, right to the waiting Ibarra, who punched the ball home from a distance of about two feet.

Puerto Rico, meanwhile, has played the role of the typical road team - content to attack only on the counter and wait for defensive miscues and set pieces. They've had three chances from corners and free kicks, none of them particularly dangerous.

It's the first time the Stars have scored twice in a game since July 12 and only the sixth time all season, and it has them set up for a different second half. They say in hockey that a two-goal lead is the hardest to protect. The Stars are about to find out if it's true in soccer as well - and it's no doubt that's a problem they'd love to have.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.