Crystal Palace Baltimore News Release - www.crystalpalaceusa.com
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
BALTIMORE, MD -- Crystal Palace Baltimore knocked the Harrisburg City Islanders out of the USL-2 playoffs at UMBC tonight, earning a semifinal trip to Charlotte on Saturday August 16th to face the top-seeded Eagles. The game stood at 2-2 as the whistle blew for the end of regulation, forcing 30 minutes of extra time. But the teams remained tied and eight rounds of a penalty shoot-out was needed to break the deadlock, 7-6.
Palace defeated Harrisburg in similar fashion earlier this season in the 2nd round of the US Open Cup.
Each side started a little hesitantly, but after a few minutes the pace picked up and both goalkeepers were called into action. In the 9th minute, Shintaro Harada sent a long, looping cross from the right to the far post where Gary Brooks outjumped his two defenders and headed home.
Four minutes later Dan Lader fouled Mo Oduor 25 yards from goal and Ryan Heins stepped to take the free-kick. His powerful low effort flew past the right side of the three-man wall with Palace ‘keeper Rowland scrambling to get back and the City Islanders were level.
In the 29th minute, Palace regained the lead when Val Teixeira broke down the left and rifled in a low cross which Pat Healey met at the near post finishing well from three yards out.
The visitors created plenty of chances in the final fifteen minutes of the half but Palace held on to their advantage going into the break. It was more of the same in the second half with neither side able to put the finishing touch on the ball.
On 75 minutes, Harrisburg equalized when Mo Oduor slid a perfect pass through the Palace back-line for an on-rushing Brian Ombiji to fire past Brian Rowland. The momentum stayed with the Islanders as the final fifteen minutes ticked off the clock and in the 89th minute, Harrisburg’s Jason Pelletier failed to convert when it seemed easier to score on a fine cross from Mo Oduor.
The two periods of extra-time saw each side create half-chances but based on Harrisburg’s record of ten ties in twenty regular season games, a penalty shoot-out seemed inevitable.
Apart from the second round of penalties which saw both takers miss the target, each goalkeeper quickly became accustomed to picking the ball out of the back of the net until the eighth round. Anthony Calvano sent his effort to the left but Rowland guessed correctly and the game was Palace’s to win on the next spot kick. Late substitute Sergio Flores stepped up and buried the ball sending his teammates, the bench and the crowd into jubilant celebration.
Palace travel to Charlotte this Saturday, August 16th for their semifinal match with the top-seeded Eagles at 7:30pm. The other semifinal features Cleveland at Richmond on the same date. The winner of each semifinal will meet in the Championship game the following Saturday, August 23rd.