(Rochester, NY)... The Rochester Rhinos welcomed the Harrisburg City Islanders to Sahlen's Stadium on Friday night with a trip to the USL Pro Final next weekend. In a hard-fought match in which both teams had players sent off the Harrisburg City Islanders emerged with a 2-1 win
Harrisburg opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Stephen Basso's shot deflected off a Rhino defender leaving goalkeeper Neal Kitson helpless to make the save. Harrisburg had another opportunity minutes later but Kitson was able to corral Sainey Touray's scoring chance.
A series of hard challenges, one resulting in an injury to Rochester forward Isaac Kissi, caused tempers to flare and the ejections of Harrisburg's Andrew Marshall and the Rhinos Tony Donatelli. Minutes later Harrisburg's Anthony Calvano was cautioned after taking down Kitson.
With the first half winding down Harrisburg took a two-goal advantage when David Schofield broke in alone on Kitson. Schofield's shot was deflected by Kitson but could not prevent the goal and a 2-0 score.
Hostilities continued, this time as Harrisburg's Brian Ombiji took Rochester's Connor Tobin into the advertsing boards and was promptly ejected for his actions in the 42nd minute.
Up ten men to nine Rochester's Kissi managed to capitalize on the depleted Harrisburg lineup by running on to a Tyler Rosenlund ball and raced past the City Islander defense for his second goal of the postseason.
At the conclusion of the first half Harrisburg coach Bill Becher was escorted off the field not to return for the remainder of the match.
Rochester nearly tied the match in the 57th minute as Drew Cost's back post cross just missed Kissi and Troy Roberts. The Rhinos continued to apply pressure as Rosenlund's 18-yard blast was stopped by Chase Harrison with JC Banks bearing down on the rebound. The 69th minute saw Rich Costanzo send to precise cross into the box where second-half sub Andrew Hoxie's redirection from three yards was just wide. The near-misses continued for Rochester as Banks found Hoxie with a golden opportunity but couldn't connect on an awkward shot in the 72nd.
Despite the constant pressure the Islanders were able to hold off the Rhinos to capture a hard-fought 2-1 win and advance to the USL Pro Final next week against the winner of the Richmond Kickers vs. Orlando City Lions match.