by Pete Richmire

KENT, WA. - The Tacoma Stars (4-4-0) opened a two-game home series with the Empire Strykers (7-4-1) looking for a reversal of fortunes, instead seeing their slide extended to three games with a 5-1 loss to the visitors at the accesso ShoWare Center Friday night. Empire keeper Chris Toth stopped 15 of 16 shots faced and allowed just the one goal in the win.

Empire led this one wire-to-wire as they saw their win streak increase to five straight games after starting the season 2-4-1. 

The Strykers were powered by a pair of goals from Franck Tayou and Nestor Hernandez in this one beginning with The King. Tayou notched the lone goal of the 1st quarter on an assist from Mohamed Ndiaye and the game headed to the 2nd frame with Empire clinging to a 1-0 lead.

Jamael Cox punched in Tacoma's only goal of the night with Alex Caceres getting credit for the assist to level the game at 2-2. The goal was not without controversy though, as Strykers head coach Jimmy Nordberg challenged the play looking for a foul as there was contact with Toth on the play. The call on the field of a good goal stood and the game eventually went to halftime tied 1-1.

Hernandez put up back-to-back goals with assists from Juan Topete and Robert Palmer to open the scoring in the 2nd half and the Strykers held a 4-1 lead with 6:15 to play in the 3rd. Justin Stinson extended their lead to 4-1 just 30 seconds later with an unassisted effort and the Strykers were cruising at that point. 

It was Ndiaye who found Franck Tayou with a pass for his second goal of the game and only marker of the 4th quarter which closed out the scoring and reached the 5-1 final.