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Rowdies lose 1-0 as Edmonton goaltender Matt van Oekel stars

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The Tampa Bay Rowdies kept hammering at the opponent’s goal Saturday night.

They simply couldn’t penetrate it.

The Rowdies got off 21 shots, nine of them on goal, only to see Edmonton’s Matt van Oekel turn them all away in a 1-0 Edmonton  victory. The Rowdiess fell to 10th place in the 11-team NASL with the loss.

“I think we actually had a good performance tonight,” Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said. “I liked the way we moved the ball, the way we passed it and the chances we created, but ultimately, we didn’t score. We should have had at least two or three goals in front before they got their penalty kick.”

Van Oekel’s nine saves added up to his league-high 10th clean sheet of the season in 19 matches.

“Edmonton are a well-organized, well-disciplined team who are on a great run, so it was a tough loss for us,” Campbell said. “We have to score when we create the chances we do.”

Van Oekel had five saves in the first half, highlighted by a tremendous double save in the 15th minute, denying both Eric Avila’s and Carlos Preciado’s on-target efforts from 12 yards out within seconds of one another.

“I’m sorry that we lost the game, we were definitely the better team,” Georgi Hristov said. “We had enough chances to win the game easily, but we couldn’t score. If you don’t score, (losing) is how it happens in soccer most of the time. … (Van Oekel) is a good goalkeeper but we should’ve scored. He’s probably the Man of the Match.”

Tampa Bay will seek to snap its losing streak next week at home at Al Lang Stadium against Rayo OKC on Saturday night.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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