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Lasso, Williams lead Rowdies to final preseason victory

By Staff, 03/04/23, 7:51AM EST


Martinez also on target as Tampa Bay takes 3-1 result against the University of South Florida

The Tampa Bay Rowdies' JJ Williams and Forrest Lasso were both on the scoresheet as the side took a 3-1 win against the University of South Florida. | Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies

TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies finished the preseason on a high note on Friday night with a 3-1 victory against the University of South Florida at the club’s training facility. Forrest Lasso and JJ Williams scored first-half goals for the Rowdies before Ariel Martinez added a third late on before the Bulls responded in the final minute.

“This was a very good test from USF,” said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. “They pressed us high, so it was a real high tempo game and I thought at times we looked very good. As you’d imagine, there’s always things we’d like to improve, but that’s part and parcel at this stage of the season. Overall, two very positive performances to finish the preseason with.”

Tampa Bay wasted little time in pulling ahead. In the seventh minute, a well-placed free kick from Lewis Hilton teed up Lasso for a header into the back of the net. Hilton and Lasso have now combined for three goals this preseason.

Williams proceeded to double the lead in the 35th minute. Fellow new arrival Cal Jennings began the sequence with a shot from outside the penalty area that forced the Bulls goalkeeper into a save, and Williams was on hand to put home the rebound for his third goal of the preseason.

Another newcomer to the Rowdies found a third goal late in the match. In the 85th minute, Martinez shook off a defender in the penalty area before slipping a curling strike into the bottom left corner. Martinez finishes the preseason with two goals under his belt.

“Last week against Tormenta particularly looked like a Rowdies performance,” said Collins. “Tonight we saw real glimpses of that as well. I’ve been through so many preseasons as a coach and a player. I’ve seen wins, tough losses, and then come the start of the season it all doesn’t mean an awful lot. But from performance to performance, we’ve seen enough that I’m sure if we keep building on those we’ll be standing in good stead for the regular season.”

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