SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Scorpions lifted the Soccer Bowl in front of their own fans after defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-1 in the final Saturday night.
The match was scoreless in the 62nd minute when Shawn Chin blasted a low drive from 20 yards and forced a save from Scorpions goalkeeper Josh Saunders. But the keeper couldn't collect the rebound and referee Ted Unkel blew for penalty on a collision in the box. The controversial decision would soon be forgotten when Martin Nunez hit the crossbar from the spot and the match stayed scoreless.
The Scorpions nearly had an immediate response as the home crowd began to get into the match with Billy Forbes' effort kept out by a late block. Forbes surged forward again in the 70th minute, leaping over a sliding Striker but eventually having his run repelled. But the Strikers lost possession when trying to counter and the Scorpions played a cross toward the edge of the box. Colombian midfielder Rafael Castillo sized it up and sent an overhead kick to the back post where it went off and in for the opener.
Castillo turned provider in the 79th minute when the ball came to him in his own third and he spotted Forbes charging forward. The 34-year-old found Forbes with his long, low pass, but Forbes still had work to do. The Turks and Caicos native shifted to his left to beat his defender and put the finish past goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky.
The host was confident but some of that confidence was undone when the Strikers pulled one back thanks to substitute Walter Ramirez. The goal touched off a skirmish on the goalline, which was eventually cleared up and led to a testy final 11 minutes.
Both sides had opportunities to score in the first half - with each having five shots - but neither was able to capitalize. The Scorpions came out with plenty of enthusiasm and had several chances early before the match settled into a rhythm. Midfielder Rafael Castillo was instrumental in those chances, and his 15th-minute free kick from the center of the pitch went to the back post where two of his teammates were unmarked, but neither was able to put a header on target.
The Strikers' best chance came five minutes before the break when forward Aly Alberto Hassan was played in by midfielder Chin's pass with the outside of his foot. Hassan fired from the corner of the box and had Scorpions goalkeeper Josh Saunders beaten but his effort went wide. Hassan was played in seven minutes earlier from a Mark Anderson pass over the top but tried to hit an early shot, which he also sent wide.
Many of the 7,847 fans announced to be in attendance - a record for the rebooted NASL's championship game - invaded the pitch after the match as the Scorpions celebrated their title. The title is the first for San Antonio, which started play in 2012.