Pair of second-half goals gives Rochester series lead
Rochester, N.Y. — The Charleston Battery lost to the Rochester Rhinos, 2-0, on Friday night at PaeTek Park in front of 6,932.
The game was the first of a two-match aggregate score first-round USL First Division playoff series. Both teams return to Blackbaud Stadium on Sunday at 7 p.m. for the deciding match with Charleston needing to win by two goals to stay alive.
On Friday, after playing well and controlling the tempo for most of the match, the game turned on Charleston in the 86th minute when Rochester broke the deadlock with a goal by Steve Guppy.
Three minutes later, it was 2-0 as Matt Delicate blasted home a shot from outside the box, leaving the Battery to face an uphill task to advance to the USL semifinals.
The Battery created the first good opportunity in the 19th minute from a corner kick. Osvaldo Alonso whipped the ball into the near side of the box, where it was deflected at the goal by a Rochester defender. Rochester midfielder Danny Earls was well-placed at the back post and cleared the chance off the line.
Rochester responded with a flowing attack in the 32nd minute that saw Earls pick out winger Luke Kreamalmeyer at the back post. Kreamalmeyer lifted a shot at the goal, but Battery goalkeeper Dusty Hudock dove to his left and just managed to make the save.
Charleston pressed on and earned two free kicks in the span of five minutes. Stephen Armstrong took the first but hammered the ball straight at the wall. The second was claimed by forward Lazo Alavanja, who curled his attempt around the wall only to see it saved by goalkeeper Scott Vallow, who turned it round the post.
Charleston continued to look most dangerous from set-plays and Scott Vallow made a superb stop from another Alavanja free-kick in the 50th minute.
The game appeared to headed to a tie until Rochester midfielder John Menyongar slipped past his defender in the 86th minute. He fired in a cross to the back post where it was headed into the goal by Steve Guppy.
With time running out Rochester doubled its advantage at the 90 minute mark after the Battery defenders failed to clear at the edge of the box. Forward Matt Delicate took advantage turning neatly before ripping a shot past Hudock into the right corner.