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Higgins lifts Rough Riders past New Hampshire

A healthy Higgins was inserted back into the Riders starting lineup Saturday night when leading scorer Derrick Etienne was unavailable because of a personal commitment. Higgins was spectacular, scoring a pair of goals to lead the Rough Riders to a 3-2 win over the New Hampshire Phantoms at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, L.I.

"I had good practice sessions this week. I felt sharp. I felt good," Higgins said. "I just kept thinking, 'Whenever I get on the field, whether it's in the beginning of the game or the last 10 minutes, I just have to go in and change the game.'"

Higgins showed signs of getting out of his funk, scoring his team's lone goal in a 2-1 loss to the MetroStars in an exhibition game earlier in the month. But with the Rough Riders, winners of seven of their last eight games, in the midst of a fight for the second and final playoff berth in the Atlantic Division, Higgins couldn't have come up with bigger goals.

"He looked very sharp and he worked his tail off for the whole game, so I thought he did very well," Rough Riders coach Ronan Wiseman said of Higgins. "He looked sharp all week and he got the start tonight, and it paid dividends for us."

Higgins ended a 672-minute goalless drought in the 28th minute when he flicked Carlo Espinosa's corner kick past New Hampshire keeper Josh Cole in the 28th minute. He scored his second in the 50th minute when he raced into the box, collected Jim Rooney's shanked shot attempt and knocked the bouncing ball in from 14 yards out.

"Jimmy's usually on target with the shots, so whether it was going to the keeper or not, I was going there for a rebound," Higgins said. "It got through and I was the first one to it and just knocked it in."

Higgins now has two goals and two assists for six points in 10 games played this season.

Joseph named to MLS All-Star Game. Former St. John's standout Shalrie Joseph was named as one of four replacement players for the Eastern Conference squad by coach Peter Nowak for Saturday's MLS All-Star Game at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

The defensive midfielder from Brooklyn joins New England Revolution teammate Steve Ralston as well as Columbus Crew defender Robin Frasier and D.C. United midfielder Dema Kovalenko.

The four players replace two previously named starters - D.C. United Ryan Nelsen and former Chicago Fire midfielder DaMarcus Beasley as well as reserves Clint Dempsey from New England and former D.C. United midfielder Bobby Convey on the 17-man roster.

Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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