Brian Brown remembered the early season’s outcome as if it had happened yesterday.
No one needed to remind the Indy forward of the last time his team faced Ft. Lauderdale—a 7-1 rout that would end up being the worst loss the club has suffered since it was first established. He already knew, and after holding on for a 2-1 victory over the Strikers last night, one thing was clear: Contenders or not, Brown and his team came to win.
The Indy Eleven closed out the home season with back-to-back wins over top-seeded teams for the second-straight season, and given the previous result, this win was particularly satisfying.
“This is a great feeling,” Brown said. “The Strikers beat us 7-1 last time, and we wanted to come out and beat them on our field. We came out, played hard and played strong in this last home game of the season and did what we wanted to do to get the win.”
Unlike the last meeting between the two teams, the Indy Eleven were able to control possession in the opening quarter of the game, using the middle of the field generously to set up midfielder Don Smart for a score in the 19th minute.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” Brown said. “Dylan Mares and Zach [Steinberger] are always open in the midfield, so if you pass the ball to them, you’re always open as well. For me, up top by myself, I tried to go outside and create space so we can score on them. It’s good to have space in the midfield to do whatever.”
Brown’s own goal in the 43rd minute would lift Indy to a 2-0 lead just before the half.
For a team that has allowed the first goal 13 times in 18 games—seven in the last nine matches—interim head coach Tim Regan was most impressed with his team’s defensive play during the course of the game.
“We were defensively a lot more sound this time around,” Regan said. “We were able to handle their talented guys and shut some people down. It also helps to score early because, in that way, they have to push the game and we’re able to sit back and absorb a little bit.”
Scoring early would prove to be crucial in the second half, where the Strikers’ Jose Angulo had time to set up and score from 20 yards out to cut Indy’s lead to 2-1.
Indy Eleven goalkeeper Kristian Nicht would finish the game with four saves, including a potential last-minute equalizer from Strikers’ Walter Rameriz in extra time.
Despite jarring Ft. Lauderdale’s hopes of securing the last open seed in postseason play, Regan and his team refuse to define themselves with the “spoiler status.”
“The last few games have definitely played out to be that way, but that’s not how we’re approaching it,” Regan said. “We came out to win in game one and we came out to win in game 29. It’s all the same.”
The Indy Eleven will close out its 2015 season on the road as they prepare to face the Carolina RailHawks next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
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