Rochester Rhinos News Release – www.rhinossoccer.com
Sunday, October 5, 2008
BAYAMON, PR — The Rochester Rhinos took their 2-0 aggregate lead over the Puerto Rico Islanders into leg two of the USL First Division semifinal round on Sunday, but were unable to advance to their seventh league title game as Puerto Rico scored twice in the first half to level the series, and in the final minute of series overtime to advance to the final 3-2 on aggregate.
Puerto Rico was without Nigel Henry (injury), Scott Jones (suspension) and Edwin Miranda (suspension).
It was corner kicks that would seal the Rhinos fate in a 3-0 loss with all three Islander goals coming off a set piece. It appeared that the Rhinos had scored the goal they needed, but it was ruled that Johnny Menyongar was offside.
It was, however, the Islanders who struck first in the early stages of the first half as Fabrice Noel connected on a corner kick in the 11th minute to give the home side a 1-0 lead, cutting the Rochester advantage in half.
Rochester had a chance to even the score in the 20th minute but couldn’t connect. Later in the match the Islanders had another scoring chance off a corner kick but Rhinos goalkeeper Scott Vallow was able to punch the ball up and out of harm’s way.
The top scoring team in the league was able to even the aggregate score off a corner kick when Taiwo Atieno finished off a Noah Delgado corner kick in the later stages of the first half, giving them a 2-0 lead in the game at the 33 minute mark.
Another Islander opportunity was foiled when Vallow was up to the challenge, stopping an opportunity for Noah Delgado from in close to keep the score 2-0 going into the half.
The Islanders continued to pressure Rochester from the beginning of the second half. The Rhinos had a chance in the 60th minute but goalkeeper Bill Gaudette was there to make the stop.
In the 77th Johnny Steele fed a pass to Fabrice Noel that looked dangerous, however, Vallow made the stop.
The Rhinos ramped up the pressure as regulation was coming to a close, just missing when a Tiger Fitzpatrick attempt just missed wide.
As overtime was underway it was Steele who nearly struck first, just missing the upper corner which would have given the Islanders a 3-2 aggregate lead. Minutes later Puerto Rico’s Fabrice Noel had a golden opportunity but was denied by a diving save by Vallow.
After both teams weathered the storm during the first fifteen minutes of overtime without scoring, the second overtime would be the last chance to win the series before the penalty kick round began. With both teams trying to net the deciding goal it was apparent that nearly 120 minutes of play were taking a toll.
With the time winding down in the second overtime the Rhinos season came to an abrupt end when the Islanders scored off another corner kick with defender Cristiano Arrieta sending the Islanders to the first league title match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.