The Rhinos hosted FC Cincinnati for the first meeting of the two teams. Play was even between the two teams, but the Rhinos managed to walk away with a hard fought victory with the help of goals from the team’s captain Mike Garzi, and a penalty kick from Steevan Dos Santos.
“We’ve been playing well and we’ve been waiting patiently for that 3 point win and we finally got it.” said Coach Lilley about tonight's victory.
FC Cincinnati came off the bench strong and dominated play in the first 15’. Early on in the first half Marcos Ugarte slotted it to Dos Santos at the top of the box with FC Cincinnati’s Hildebrandt making a save. FCC returned the favor not long after with Okoli sending a hard shot from about twenty yards out that hit the crossbar, with the rebound landing just wide.
In the 32’ Rhinos goalkeeper Gomez made a run off his line to defend the Rhinos net all the way out at the eighteen and cleared the ball with a header that was quickly sent back in by Cincinnati’s McLaughlin.
The score remained 0-0 until the 34’ with a goal from Rhinos captain Michael Garzi. His second goal of the season was on a rebound from the team’s leading shot taker Steevan Dos Santos. Marcos Ugarte made the play happen with a nice run down the sideline that resulted in a crisp cross and a strong finish.
The teams went into the half with the Rhinos holding their 1-0 lead and the Rhinos outshooting FC Cincinnati 6-3.
Rhinos leading goal scorer Christian Volesky led an attack in the 52’ dribbling past the defense but was stopped by FCC defenders Nicholson and DelBridge. FCC countered with an attack led by Okoli who missed the equalizer with a shot that went just wide.
Joseph Farrell sent a long ball from up field that found Dos Santos in the box, after a challenge on the play by FCC defender DelBridge, the Rhinos were rewarded a penalty kick. Dos Santos took the shot himself, sending Hildebrandt diving the opposite way to make it 2-0 Rhinos.
The Rhinos celebration was cut short when FC Cincinnati forward Wiedeman was stopped by Gomez who was forced to come off his line. The play resulted in a penalty kick, taken by Okoli, who sent Gomez the opposite way to make it 2-1 in the 76’. The penalty is Okoli’s eighth goal of the season.
Kernardo Forbes added effort to the Rhinos attack, speeding past the Cincinnati defense cutting across the top of the box but his shot went wide, a common theme in tonight’s game. Play remained even between the two teams with both having chances to find the back of the net.
In the 89’ FCC was granted a free kick thirty yards out, with Ugarte earning a yellow card for the challenge. With a chance to tie the game in the final minutes, FC Cincinnati sent the ball into the stands. Four minutes of stoppage time was added to the clock, but that wasn’t enough for FC Cincinnati to even the score. Their 11 game unbeaten streak came to an end while the Rhinos advanced to 7-4-4 on the season.
The Rhinos walked away from their midweek match up with a 2-1 win against a top team in the Eastern Conference. They look to face Orlando City B this Sunday at 6:05, the Rhinos are 5-2-1 at home this season.