Castillo’s bicycle sparks Scorpions towards first Soccer Bowl trophy


SAN ANTONIO, TX. – The San Antonio Scorpions are considered one of the strongest teams in the NASL this year, and on Saturday night, they demonstrated why.

A world class bicycle kick from Colombian veteran Rafael Castillo and a clinical finish by Billy Forbes in the 75th minute helped the host Scorpions earn a 2-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to hoist their first ever Soccer Bowl trophy in front of an NASL Championship record crowd of 7,847.

“Hats off to my guys,” said Scorpions coach Alen Marcina.  “All year they came together as one, as a true family.  We dug it out and I’m very, very proud of them, of our organization and our great fans.”

The match started on a conservative foot for both sides, with the Strikers earning the better of play.  Despite their pressure, it would be San Antonio earning the first goal scoring threats of the match with defender Greg Janicki heading a free kick attempt wide of Kamil Contofalsky and Castillo driving a shot just wide of net some five minutes later.

Shawn Chin nearly helped his side to an early lead, feeding Aly Alberto Hassan whose shot beat NYCFC loanee Josh Saunders, but skipped just wide of net.

A 50/50 call in the box from referee Ted Unkel gave the Strikers a chance for the lead early in the second half.  Saunders made the initial stop on Chin, but the rebound saw the Strikers’ Mark Anderson taken down in the box.  Martin Nunez lined up the ensuing penalty, beat Saunders but clanged his shot off the crossbar.

The miss breathed life into the Scorpions and it would take little time to make the Strikers pay.  A world-class bicycle kick from former Colombian international Castillo beat Contofalsky to the near post, ringing off the bar and in, giving the home side the advantage.

“I think the PK woke us up a little bit,” Forbes said.  “Once they missed it, we knew we had to step it up a notch, and we did that and came out victorious.”

Minutes later, Forbes doubled their lead, taking a Castillo lead pass and slicing his way through two defenders before beating Contofalsky in the 74th minute.

While a dagger moment, the Scorpions were not out of the woods just yet.  A clever give and go saw Anderson feed Ramirez in the box, beating Saunders to cut the lead in half.

However, their efforts were too little, too late as the Scorpions defended well into the final minutes to secure their first ever Soccer Bowl trophy.