Rochester, NY – The Rochester Rhinos moved back into second place in the USL PRO standings after a 2:0 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in Sahlen’s Stadium on Saturday night. Rhinos coach Jesse Myers gave star striker Isaac Kissi his first start of the season, and he was further boosted by center back Georgios Kyriazis and left back Jack Traynor returning from injury. Rochester’s USL PRO MVP candidate JC Banks scored the Rhinos opener in the first half, and substitute Andrew Hoxie secured the three points for the home side late in the match.
Pittsburgh was playing their second match in as many nights. The Riverhounds lost 2:0 at home to the City Islanders last night, and then had to drive throughout the night to arrive in Rochester early Saturday morning. Rochester was able to take advantage of a sluggish start from Pittsburgh in the first twenty minutes of the match.
After taking the first few minutes of the match to settle in, Rochester opened the scoring in the tenth minute. Right back Lucas Fernandez got loose down the right flank and whipped in a cross from the end line. Kissi flicked on the ball at the near post, and Banks touched the bouncing ball home at the far post to give the Rhinos a 1:0 lead. It was Banks fifth goal and 18th point of the season. He is now second in USL PRO in points, and trails Charleston’s Nicki Patterson by two points for the league lead.
The Rhinos had a carbon copy of an opportunity in the 14th minute. Fernandez ran down the right touchline and served in a ball from the end line. Kissi made another near post run, but could not get his head on the cross. The ball landed at the feet of left winger Chris Estridge at the far post, but he could not get a shot on target.
In the 20th minute Kissi was fouled by Pittsburgh Riverhounds center back Louie Rolko 35 yards out from goal. Center midfielder Danny Earls served the free kick into the penalty area and found Kyriazis at the top of the six yard box, but he flicked his header over the goal.
Pittsburgh responded with their best chance of the first half in the 21st minute. Pittsburgh’s star midfielder Matt Kassel was able to get on the end of a cross from the right flank at the far post. Kassel controlled the ball, but hit his shot right at Rhinos goalkeeper Kristian Nicht.
The Rhinos had the last chance of the first half in the 40th minute. The Rhinos quickly took a free kick on the left flank, and played the ball down the touchline to Estridge. Estridge found time and space, and he squared the ball to Kissi 15 yards out from goal. Kissi was able to put a shot on target but he hit it right at Pittsburgh goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap.
The Rhinos led the first half in shots seven to two, but Gilstrap made three saves and Rochester led one to nil at the half.
Pittsburgh had a livelier start to the second half, and they had a great chance to find an equalizer in the 59th minute. Tino Nunez received the ball at the top of the box with his back to the Rhinos goal after an extended spell of possession. Nunez flicked the ball on with the outside of his foot into the space behind the Rhinos back four. Nicht and Riverhounds forward Mike Seth raced for the ball, but Nicht was able to slide in and save the ball at Seth’s feet to end the Riverhounds threat.
In the 76th minute Pittsburgh threatened the Rhinos goal once again. Kassel received the ball out on the right flank and attacked some space in the Rhinos midfield. He took a shot from about 30 yards out that whistled by a diving Nicht’s far post.
One minute later Rochester doubled their lead. Fernandez served an early ball into the Riverhounds box, and Hoxie was first to the cross. He headed his shot on goal. Gilstrap could not handle Hoxie’s effort cleanly, and the Rhinos scored their second goal of the evening.
In the 89th minute Gilstrap redeemed himself by keeping Rhinos substitute Quavas Kirk out with a diving save at the near post.
Pittsburgh’s Seth C’deBaca threatened Nicht’s goal one more time from distance in stoppage time, but he was up to the task and kept his league leading ninth shutout of the season.
The victory leaves Rochester in second place in USL PRO. They are two points in front of Charleston, but the Battery have two matches in hand. The second place finisher in the USL PRO regular season receives a first round bye in the playoff tournament.
The next Rhinos home game is Friday, July 28th at 7:30PM against Los Angeles Blues in Sahlen’s Stadium. Tickets can be purchased by calling 585-454-KICK, by visiting rhinossoccer.com, or by visiting any Ticket Master Retail location.
Rochester – 2
Rochester Rhinos: 24 – Kristian Nicht; 5 – Jack Traynor, 6 – Georgios Kyriazis, 12 – Troy Roberts, 20 – Lucas Fernandez; 16 – Danny Earls, 8 – Tyler Rosenlund, 10 – Tom McManus; 9 – Chris Estridge, 18 – Isaac Kissi, 29 – JC Banks
Reserves: 2 – Tyler Bellamy, 3 – Drew Cost, 13 – Quavas Kirk, 22 – Kendell McFayden, 23 – Andrew Hoxie, 25 – Brandon Miller, 27 – Michael Tanke
Pittsburgh: ; 1 – Hunter Gilstrap; 5 – Sterling Flunder, 4 – Nikola Katic, 13 – Louie Rolko, 8 – Mike Green; 14 – Seth C’deBaca, 2 – Matt Kassel, 6 – Rich Costanzo, 18 – Neal Shaffer; 12 – Mike Seth, 25 – Tino Nunez
Shintaro Harada, 23 – Anthony Calvano
Scoring: Rochester: JC Banks (Isaac Kissi) 10th minute
Rochester: Andrew Hoxie (Lucas Fernandez) 77th minute
Substitutions: Rochester – Kirk for Banks 19th minute
Pittsburgh – Lundberg for Seth 61st minute
Rochester – Hoxie for Kissi 67th minute
Pittsburgh – Deighton for Nunez 71st minute
Rochester - Cost for Estridge 76th minute
Rochester – McFayden for McManus 79th minute
Rochester – Bellamy for Kyriazis 80th minute
Pittsburgh – Harada for Costanzo
Cautions: Pittsburgh – Costanzo 55th minute
Pittsburgh – Katic 85th minute