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August 20, 2012
Week in review: Rochester claims no. 2 seed

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Rhinos claimed the No. 2 seed in the USL PRO Playoffs as Andrew Hoxie’s late goal earned a 1-0 win against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Sahlen’s Stadium on Saturday night.

The Rhinos’ victory, coupled with Antigua Barracuda FC’s 2-1 win against the Richmond Kickers, allowed Rochester to join Orlando City in earning a bye to the semifinals.

The Kickers had put the pressure on the Rhinos to get a result on Friday night as David Bulow scored the only goal against Antigua on Friday night, with the second-half substitute flicking home a deft header from Sascha Goerres cross to give his side victory.

With Richmond having drawn even on points, and holding the tiebreaker against the Rhinos, the pressure was on Rochester to find victory against the Riverhounds and make the Kickers win again on Sunday to claim the No. 2 seed. The Rhinos got a great opportunity to take the lead in the 24th minute when Tyler Rosenlund was brought down for a penalty kick, but Tam McManus’ effort was saved by Pittsburgh goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap, sending the game to the break scoreless.

Gilstrap continued to frustrate the Rhinos in the second half, making a marvelous save to deny Chris Estridge on a back-post header in the 71st minute, but the Rhinos finally found the breakthrough with four minutes to go as Rosenlund found Hoxie in the penalty area, and the second-half substitute fired home from a tight angle to give his side all three points.

The door remained open for the Kickers on Sunday, however, as they needed just a win to jump past the Rhinos and take second place, but Antigua put an early dent in those plans as Quinton Griffith opened the scoring after 27 seconds, rifling home a shot from the left side of the penalty area.

Richmond took control of the game soon after, and came close to an equalizer when Luke Vercollone’s shot hit the crossbar in the 31st minute. Seven minutes later, though, the Barracudas struck again, with Randolph Burton driving home a shot from 25 yards into the left corner of the net for a 2-0 halftime lead.

The Kickers tried to rally, with Chris Agorsor having a goal ruled out for offside in the 62nd minute, but it took until second-half stoppage time for Richmond to find a break through, Agorsor scoring from close range, which came too late for a serious chance at a rally.

While the Rhinos take the week off and prepare for their semifinal on Friday, August 31 at Sahlen’s Stadium, the No. 4-seed Kickers will host the No. 5-seed Wilmington Hammerheads on Saturday night at City Stadium in the quarterfinals of the USL PRO Playoffs.

ROCK HILL, S.C. – The Wilmington Hammerheads claimed the No. 5 seed in the USL PRO Playoffs, and opened the door for the Harrisburg City Islanders to claim the No. 6 seed, as they took a 2-1 victory against the Charlotte Eagles on Sunday night at Manchester Meadows Soccer Complex. Steven Perry scored the decisive goal for the Hammerheads, which also served to knock the Eagles out of the playoffs.

Sunday’s contest between the Eagles and Hammerheads had originally been scheduled for Friday night, but due to heavy rain that flooded the field at Wingate College, the game was rescheduled for a second time to Sunday, to follow Saturday’s game between the two teams in Wilmington.

With Wilmington and Charlotte postponed, Harrisburg temporarily edged past the Eagles into sixth place on Friday night after a 2-2 draw with the Los Angeles Blues in the opening game of their two-game series at Sherbeck Field. The Blues had taken the lead in the 16th minute as Maykel Galindo scored his first goal of the season, but the City Islanders hit back with two goals in seven minutes as Bilal Duckett and Lucky Mkosana gave their side a halftime lead.

Los Angeles was then reduced to 10 men after Erlys Garcia was sent off early in the second half, and Harrisburg could have added to its lead from the penalty spot, only for Duckett’s effort to be saved by Jose Miranda, his second penalty save in as many weeks. The Blues then grabbed an equalizer with six minutes to go, Matt Fondy scoring from close range, but they were unable to find a game-winner and were eliminated from playoff contention.

Now sitting out of the playoff places, Charlotte took control of its destiny on Saturday night as Devon Grousis scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Eagles. Grousis’ goal came in the 48th minute as he headed home his second goal of the season from Chris Salvaggione’s free kick. The win left Charlotte needing just a point from their rematch with the Hammerheads on Sunday, but they fell behind just before the half-hour mark as on-loan New York Red Bulls striker Corey Hertzog scored his ninth goal of the season to give Wilmington the halftime lead.

Charlotte drew even, and restored their playoff hopes, in the 57th minute as Darren Toby tied the game after the Hammerheads were unable to clear a free kick, but Perry’s goal 13 minutes from the end sealed Wilmington’s place in the playoffs, and left the Eagles sitting and waiting for news from California.

Needing a win thanks to the result from the east coast, Harrisburg had to hold on at times to keep the game scoreless in their second contest with the Blues. City Islanders goalkeeper Nick Noble in particular had a strong outing and he was helped by his defense, with Jimmy McLaughlin clearing an effort by Bryan Burke off the line.

The City Islanders opened the door to the playoffs in the 66th minute, however, as Mkosana was able to weave his way into the Blues penalty area before cutting back a cross to Yann Ekra, who finished his chance clinically. Harrisburg was then able to withstand the Blues’ late pressure to claim the final place in the playoffs, and leave the Eagles on the outside looking in.

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery entered their final game of the season knowing a victory would guarantee a home game in the playoffs. While they weren’t able to find a way past the Dayton Dutch Lions’ defense, however, they still claimed the No. 3 seed in the USL PRO Playoffs after a 0-0 draw at Blackbaud Stadium.

The Battery dominated the first half, and came close to taking the lead when Tony Donatelli pulled a cross back to Jose Cuevas, only for the rookie’s shot to miss the target. Charleston got its best opportunity to take the lead in the second half when Nicki Paterson was brought down in the penalty area. Paterson himself stepped up to take the penalty kick, only to be denied by Dayton goalkeeper Matt Williams diving to his left.

Cuevas again went close in second-half stoppage time, hitting the right post after being played in beautifully by Kenneth Ellison, but in the end the draw proved irrelevant as results went the Battery’s way on Sunday, allowing them to stay at home.

The draw capped a good final weekend for the Dutch Lions, who had previously claimed a 1-1 draw with Orlando City at the Florida Citrus Bowl on Friday night. Daniel Holowaty’s stoppage-time goal earned a point for Dayton, which finished the season going 4-3-6 in its final 13 games. Orlando had taken the lead with six minutes to go as Dayton defender Mettin Copier turned a cross by Kevin Molino into his own net, but Holowaty’s late strike eluded Miguel Gallardo, earning his side a point.

USL PRO, Rochester Rhinos, Harrisburg City Islanders Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions, Richmond Kickers, Wilmington Hammerheads

Orlando City forward Dennis Chin claimed a pair of awards, winning both the Goal Scoring and Scoring titles after a standout second season for the Lions.

Chin scored Orlando’s first goal of the season just three minutes into their opening contest against Charlotte, and went on to finish with 11 goals as he played in each of the Lions’ regular season contests. Chin edged out the Charleston Battery’s Nicki Paterson, who had 10 goals, for the Goal Scoring title, and his two assists allowed the 25-year-old to also finish as Scoring Champion with 24 points in as many games, one point ahead of the Wilmington Hammerheads’ Corey Hertzog.

Chin’s Orlando teammate Miguel Gallardo earned the Goals-Against Average award for the second consecutive season, with the 2011 USL PRO Goalkeeper of the Year finishing with a GAA of just 0.780. Gallardo was one of three goalkeepers in USL PRO to finish with a GAA below one, with Rochester’s Kristian Nicht finishing second at 0.909 and the Charleston Battery’s Andrew Dykstra third at 0.950.

Rochester’s J.C. Banks denied Orlando a clean sweep of the statistical honors as the Rhinos midfielder took the Assists title with eight in 22 games. In his second season with the Rhinos, Banks had a breakout season, also scoring five goals, as he earned Team MVP honors. Orlando City’s Kevin Molino finished one behind Banks with seven, while Hertzog and Banks’ teammate Danny Eagles finished tied for third with five.


Saturday, August 25
No.5 Wilmington Hammerheads at No.4 Richmond Kickers, 7 p.m. ET
No.6 Harrisburg City Islanders at No.3 Charleston Battery, 7:30 p.m. ET

Friday, August 31
Lower remaining seed at No.1 Orlando City, 7:30 p.m. ET
Higher remaining seed at No.2 Rochester Rhinos, 7:35 p.m. ET

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