The inaugural Champions Soccer League USA league title was captured by the St. Pete Raiders. The Raiders showed championship caliber fortitude in the final game of the season coming back in the final 20 minutes to defeat the Tampa Marauders 2-1 capping their season with an 8-1-1 record.
The Raiders relied on keeper Cole Clingerman to backstop the club. Clingerman posted a 1.71 GAA over 7 games. Offensively Matt Duffy led the club with 8 goals in 7 games and veteran player Kevin Dublin added 6 goals in 4 games.
"The Raiders are an extremely classy organization that is well run by the coaching staff that attracted quality players that formed a cohesive unit on the field that set themselves apart from the rest of the league" League President Kevin Hickling said.
Tampa Marauders (2-1-4) vs St Pete (6-1-1)
7:00 pm kickoff - Puryear Park
The Marauders season could have looked different had a few of their draws turned their way, but instead they play the pivotal role deciding the league champion with their three remaining games against (Greater Tampa Bay and 2x versus St. Pete). The Marauders will need a strong performance from Zlatko Buzuk (1.50 GAA) and some goals from Lorne Maxime (4) if they hope to upset St. Pete.
St Pete clings to hope that they can still steal the title away from Greater Tampa Bay with remaining games both against the Marauders, while GTB has Chargers (0-5-2); Tampa Marauders (2-1-4); and FC Plant City (1-5-1) remaining. St. Pete's keeper Clingerman (1.50 GAA) has logged every minute this season for them and their goal scoring punch has primarily focused with Matt Duffy (7 goals). The Raiders will be fired up for this as anything less than 3 points could be the end of the road for their title hopes.
FC Plant City (1-5-0) vs Tampa Marauders (2-1-3)
5:00 pm kickoff - 30th Street Fields
FC Plant City have played much better the last two games with a win against Chargers SC and a one-goal defeat to St. Pete last week. Plant City is fighting to keep ahead of the Chargers for relegation and could shock the Marauders that have struggled with 3 draws this season. Goal scoring has come from all directions and Keeper duties have mostly fallen on Jorge Navarrette (2.57 GAA).
The Marauders lost a chance at 3 points last week by surrendering a second half goal to Chargers SC so they will need to play strong to keep their slim title chances afloat. Lorne Maxime netted two goals last week and leads the team with 4 for the season. Pierre Groutchov has helped with 6 assists on the year. Last week the Marauders used Keeper Saul Mendez (3.00 GAA) in the 3-3 draw, so are likely to go back to Zlatko Buzuk (1.00 GAA) in this one.
Chargers SC (0-4-0) vs Tampa Marauders (2-1-2)
2 pm kickoff - 30th Street Fields
The Chargers looked strong in the first half of the last game prior to Greater Tampa asserting their prowess on the way to a 4-0 victory. The Chargers are lacking fire power so will rely on defending well. Keepers Grembi (4.00 GAA) and Peek (3.00 GAA) have been splitting games.
The Marauders are coming off a bye week and are looking to keep pace near the top of the table. The Marauders have 9 different goal scorers three of which have 2 goals. Keeper Buzuk (1.00 GAA) will be looking for a strong performance.
Florida SC (2-2-0) vs Tampa Marauders (2-1-1)
7 pm kickoff
Florida SC’s record does not do their club justice with their only 2 loses coming to the Raiders last week (2-0) and a last minute goal by Greater Tampa Bay in week 1. League scoring leader Brett Durrance continued his coming in off the bench last week against the Raiders, but was unsuccessful against the strong defenders of the Raiders. Keeper Nick Garet has posted a 2.00 GAA in 3 games so far this season.
The Marauders received a strong 2 goal performance by Christopher DiNapoli in the last game in the absence of Lorne Maxime. The Marauders now have 3 multi-goal scorers and 8 overall scorers this season. Keeper Saul Mendez did a good job of shutting the door last game against the Chargers, but his 3.00 GAA would be pressed against Florida SC. The other keeper Zlatko Buzuk has played in two games and has a 1.00 GAA.
This is the return leg in this series on the back side of a 5-3 victory by Florida SC. This will be another very close game with the Marauders wanting revenge and Florida SC looking to move back up the table.
Final score Tampa 1 St Pete 2. Marauders player of the game keeper Zlatko Buzuk with an amazing game
After 8 min of extra time after the weather delay. 1-0 Tampa. Second half will start shortly.