ROCHESTER, NY (October 1st, 2016)- A rainy playoff day in Rochester is nothing new for the Rhinos as they faced the Charlotte Independence in the first round of the USL Playoffs. The Rhinos welcomed the number five seed to Rochester Rhinos Stadium as they began to defend their 2015 USL Championship. The teams met just a few weeks ago in Charlotte where the Rhinos walked away with a 1-0 win on a penalty kick taken by Steevan Dos Santos, who has shown that he performs well against the Independence.
The Rhinos entered the pitch with determination, and it showed. Early in the 7th minute Wal Fall finished a free kick from 30 yards out. The ball sailed past Charlotte’s wall and past Berner to put the Rhinos ahead early.
Rochester added additional comfort when they capitalized on defensive slip from Charlotte. Berner came out to defend a Dos Santos break away, but the ball slid by him and found the back of the net. The Rhinos defense had an easy first half with Gomez seeing only one shot.
The Rhinos went into halftime leading 2-0.
A 51st minute a break away by Volesky had the potential to add to the Rhinos lead, but his cross found Dos Santos a little too late. Rochester continued to dominate the attack when just ten minutes later Dos Santo had a breakaway of his own. His shot went just wide of the upper right post.
Sofiane Tergou had more luck, scoring his first goal of the USL post season for Rochester. Quick footwork by the Rochester Rhinos allowed Tergou to get a powerful shot off from just outside the six-yard box. His goal gave the Rhinos a comfortable lead heading into the 70th minute.
“It was a very good game for us. It’s not every day we score three goals a game. Now we need to focus on next week and getting prepared for that game.” said Steevan Dos Santos post-match.
Not to be shut out, Charlotte found the back of the net themselves. Hassan put the Independence on the board in the 74thminute, but the goal would remain the high point for Charlotte as things took a quick turn for the worse.
The remaining fifteen minutes of the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals saw three ejections for Charlotte. Charlotte’s Jack Metcalf was ejected in the 80th minute for a hard foul on Wal Fall. The game then escalated quickly with another ejection in the 81st minute for Davidson due to yellow card accumulation. Then in stoppage time, Martinez was sent off leaving Charlotte with just eight men on the pitch to finish the game.
“We played well. We definitely asserted ourselves early. It was important to get the early goals. The third just cushioned us. Charlotte is a good team and they played well. We played well and deserved it.” said Coach Lilley.
The defending champions ended the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals with a 3-1 final. Next, they await the results of the New York Red Bulls II v.s Orlando City B to find out their next opponent.