Fort Lauderdale Strikers advance to NASL Championship Series
By: Pedro Heizer
Brian Shriver put the team on his back Greg Jennings style.
The 4,233 Striker Likers that were at Lockhart Stadium this past Saturday to witness history will agee.
Shriver is without a doubt the NASL Playoff MVP, with two of his five playoff goals coming in the decisive second leg of the NASL Semi-Finals.
“It’s all about the team, I do whatever I can to help the team,” said a humble Shriver about his terrific playoff success. Through all the criticism and all the rough play, there was one constant, and it was that we could play,” continued Shriver “we kept working hard and things just started to click.”
Shriver’s first goal came in the 19th minute when Walter Restrepo provided the assist after a build-up of play that Restrepo chipped the Islanders’ back line as Shriver ran through onside. Shriver then chested the ball onto his left foot and finished far post.
“We had a little bit of a nervous second half start,” Strikers coach Daryl Shore said. “But we said at halftime, ‘If they get the goal, don’t panic, don’t sweat it, keep your composure.’ We kept our composure and scored a great second goal.”
In the 56th minute, the Islanders were awarded with a corner. The resulting set-piece fell into the box, and a free-for-all arose. As the dust cleared, Puerto Rico winger David Foley volleyed home the ball to tie it 1-1.
“We knew Puerto Rico would come out and press us hard because they needed the goals,” goalkeeper Matt Glaeser said. “We were fortunate to come away with the win.”
Within three minutes, the Strikers were on the counter attack. Strikers midfielder Pecka got control of the ball and started the attack. Pecka fed Shriver through again. Shriver ran down the left, cut onto his right foot, and finished the ball far post for his eleventh of the season and fifth of the playoffs.
“This feels great,” Shore said. “I’m really proud of the guys tonight. They really came out and exerted a lot of energy. We got the early goal and that was important for us.”
The Strikers will play NCS Minnesota in the NASL Championship Series starting this Saturday in Minnesota at 8:30pm, a watch party is scheduled in Fort Lauderdale at Duffy’s in Fort Lauderdale starting at 8:00pm.