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Silverbacks top Tampa Bay, extend unbeaten streak

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Silverbacks defeated FC Tampa Bay 2-1 Saturday night in front of a crowd of 3,515 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. The win extended Atlanta’s unbeaten streak to three games and snapped Tampa Bay’s five-game unbeaten streak.

The Silverbacks (3-11-3) took the early lead over FC Tampa Bay (5-6-5) thanks to a goal from forward Junior Sandoval in the seventh minute. Goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, a Lawrenceville native, cleared the ball long out of the back, and forward Matt Horth flicked the ball on to Sandoval; Sandoval dribbled the ball into the box and slotted it underneath Tampa Bay goalkeeper Jeff Attinella for the score.

Midfielder Ciaran O’Brien made it 2-0 for the Silverbacks in the 41st minute, scoring his fourth goal in the past four games. Defender Tyler Ruthven recorded an assist for the second straight game, this one off a throw-in deep in Tampa Bay territory. O’Brien connected with the long throw, making a diving header to score.

Two minutes later, FC Tampa Bay answered. Forward Mike Ambersley dribbled through the Silverbacks defense and found forward Aaron King cutting inside the penalty area. King’s breakaway shot deflected slightly off the foot of defender Mattias Schnorf then slid past a diving Maurer, bringing the score to 2-1.

After several scoring opportunities for each team early in the second half, Tampa Bay looked to have tied the match in the 61st minute. Ambersley’s shot hit the net over Maurer’s right arm, but Ambersley was offside on the play and the goal was disallowed.

The Silverbacks held onto the lead with two big defensive plays late in the game. In the 80th minute, midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake had a free chance on goal after dribbling around Maurer, but Ruthven cleared the shot with a header off the line. Eight minutes later, Maurer saved a King breakaway to help the Silverbacks clinch the 2-1 victory.