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July 22, 2010 – U.S. Soccer Federation D-2 (USSF D-2) NSC Minnesota Stars

The NSC Minnesota Stars earned their second straight draw Wednesday night, tying the Puerto Rico Islanders 1-1. The draw ended a four-game homestand for the Stars in which they were consistently the better team but saw inconsistent results on the scoreboard.

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Melvin Tarley scored his second goal of the season in the 24th minute, collecting a pass in the midfield and carrying the ball about 10 yards before unleashing a 30-yard blast that Puerto Rico goalkeeper Cody Laurendi couldn’t get down in time to keep out of the bottom corner. After the goal, Laurendi was outstanding, turning away six Minnesota shots and breaking up several other attacks by snaring crosses or taking the ball right off Minnesota’s feet.

The Stars were left to rue those missed chances in the 71st minute, when Christopher Nurse rose above everyone in the penalty box to head home Sandy Gbandi’s corner kick. It was Nurse’s second goal of the season, and Laurendi and the Islanders’ defense were able to hang on.

«At the end of the day, there’s a bitterness for not getting the three points, but there’s still pride that the guys came out and worked so hard for 90 minutes,» head coach Manny Lagos said. «I think we played almost a complete game, except for a breakdown on the corner kick that cost us.»

The Stars responded well to Nurse’s equalizer, pushing forward and forcing Laurendi into his two best saves of the night. With about 15 minutes to play, Brian Cvilikas got onto a loose ball near just to the left of the penalty spot, curling his first touch toward the back post. The ball came through a crowd, but Laurendi got down quickly to parry the ball away from the bottom corner. In the 88th minute, Kevin Friedland took a turn to test the goalkeeper, jumping over his marker at the back post and heading powerfully on goal. Laurendi reacted quickly to stop the shot and prevent a rebound with Simone Bracalello standing on the doorstep.

Cvilikas was impressed that the keeper denied his shot, considering he was essentially screened. «I saw there was a crowd and just tried to curl it to the back post. It could have been a yard farther over, but I’m surprised he reacted to it in time.»

Lagos also praised Laurendi for earning a result for Puerto Rico. «He was really sharp and commanded the box,» he said. «When you run across a hot keeper, this is what can happen. You end up with a tie or sometimes even a loss.»

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