KENT, WA - The Tacoma Stars (7-3) and Ceder Rapids Rampage (8-3) both had bad luck on Friday the 13th as despite many first half chances the only goal that was found was courtesy of Stars midfielder Raphael Cox: his third of the campaign.
Jumping on ball upon the Ceder Rapids kickoff, and he stole the ball (in similar fashion to last week’s performance when he scored in just seven seconds) and taking the strike himself, scored in just twenty-four seconds.
Thirty scoreless minutes would follow as both sides were hungry for more by the end of halftime.
Shots were flying at both ends as both goalies stood tall. All that changed with 5:20 left in the third stanza as Cedar Rapids snatched an equalizer.
However, three minuets later Stars midfielder Mike Ramos put Tacoma back on top off of a clever ball from forward Dan Antoniuk..
Just before quarters’ end Tacoma scored their third of the night, but in true “Friday the 13th fashion” bad luck struck and the goal was disallowed despite the immediate outcry of nearby fans. Upon further review of the footage post-game it appears that the goal was indeed legitimate, but the score would remain 2-1 going in to the final quarter.
Early in the fourth, it appeared that the disallowed goal would come back to haunt the Stars as former Seattle Impact player and Cedar Rapids standout Gordy Gurson scored a stunning scissor kick goal that leveled the score at two-a-piece and took both teams into a “Golden Goal” overtime period.
Despite many solid attacks by both sides the score remained level after ten minutes and the Stars found themselves in their second shootout scenario of the season. The first was against the Dallas on November 18th in which the Stars outscored the Sidekicks on three attempts.
After five rounds both the Stars and Rampage had scored two putting the all the pressure squarely on the boys in the sixth position. The nights’ bad luck decided to strike Cedar Rapids as a beautiful strike on goal was countered by an unbelievable save by Stars goalkeeper Danny Waltman.
With the fate of the match riding on this next attempt Stars captain Joey Gjertsen stepped to the line, and with a deep breath raced towards goal slotting home a spectacular game winner.
The ShoWare Center erupted as the Stars improved their record to 8-3 on the year, while the Rampage of Cedar Rapids would be returning to the Midwest at 8-4
After spending last season with Cedar Rapids, Stars forward Alex Megsen shared what it was like to defeat his old squad, “Every win feels good. It is a big decision for me to leave the team, winning in a game like this reminds you that it was the right decision, and motivates you to keep striving and winning.”
With the race in the MASL Pacific Division being so tight through the first half of the season, the Stars will look to continue their winning ways and solidify their claim to the playoffs.
On Saturday, Tacoma got some major help thanks to the efforts of the Kansas City Comets (8-4).
With 24.1 seconds left, Kansas City scored their game wining goal to defeat the first place San Diego Sockers. With San Diego now sitting at 8-4 through twelve games and Tacoma at 8-3 through eleven, the Stars have a half-game lead in the divisional standings. Since their rebirth in 2015, this marks the first time that the Stars have been ranked higher than their bitter rivals, San Diego.
Tacoma will look to improve on this lead as they play the Turlock Express this Friday, January 20th at 7:35 pm at the ShoWare Center.
The last meeting between the sides dealt the Stars a 5-7 loss on the road, their first on the season. This will be the final meeting between the two sides on the season, and with it being “$2 Beer Night” Stars fans will undoubtedly be hyped up for this high stakes match-up.
Following this, the Stars hit the road for four games starting with two matches in Mexico as they’ll face Soles de Sonora (9-1) and Atletico Baja (5-6). Soles’ only loss came at the hands of the Stars back in week one of MASL action. The contest ended 8-4, with six different Stars on the score sheet.
The Mexican sides will have a tough test in Danny Waltman who was named to the MASL Team of the week after nabbing nineteen saves and allowing just two goals. He will have his work cut out for him as Soles and Baja do not have standard field sizes, that allow shots to be taken from almost anywhere inside of the offensive half.
Sounder at Heart will be hosting a Stars night on Feb. 24th against the Chicago Mustangs. We’ll have full details soon.