Friday, June 8, 2012
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Rhinos drew 1-1 with the Wilmington Hammerheads at Sahlen’s Stadium on Friday night as Tyler Rosenlund opened the scoring for the Rhinos on the half-hour mark, but Paul Nicholson found the equalizer in the 68th minute for Wilmington.
The Rhinos had conceded a goal in the first five minutes in each of their previous two matches. They came out with a much more direct approach in the first five minutes of Friday night’s match. While the tactics did not yield any quality chances for Rochester, they did not allow any opportunity for an early counter-attack from Wilmington.
After the first five minutes, the Rhinos began to settle into possession of the ball. Danny Earls and JC Banks started to find more space on the wings. As a result, they both began probing the Hammerheads defensive shape with service into the box. Either right back Quavas Kirk or left back Jack Traynor pushed forward to support the attack, but there were always three in the back for Rochester with center midfielder Drew Cost screening the back line to prevent any counter attacks. 6-foot-4 Andrew Hoxie got the start up top for the Rhinos, and he served as an outlet for some long balls out of the back when the Rhinos were not trying to build over the flanks.
The first chance of the half came to Wilmington in the 16th minute. Rosenlund and Cost were unlucky when they pressed and tackled Wilmington center midfielder Manny Guzman because the ball popped directly to Hammerheads forward Andriy Budnyy. Budnyy played forward Corey Hertzog through, but Rhinos center back Troy Roberts was there to block the shot in the box. The Rhinos survived a nervous moment on the ensuing corner kick when it sailed right through the goal mouth without being touched by either team.
Three minutes later the Rhinos received a stern warning from Wilmington. Guzman and Budnyy played a nifty one-two on the right flank, and Guzman served the ball into the far post. Hertzog was there to volley the ball on goal. Rhinos keeper Kristian Nicht got down and made the save, but gave up a rebound that fell to Wilmington. With Nicht still down midfielder Luke Holmes put a shot on the Rhinos empty goal, but Roberts cleared it off the line.
The Rhinos opened the scoring in the 30th minute, when Nicht took a free kick and delivered a long diagonal ball to Earls on the left wing. Earls dribbled and then served the ball into the near post, where Rosenlund flicked a header onto the near post that snuck past Wilmington goalkeeper Alex Horwath and into the back of the net. It was the Rhinos' first goal in 210 minutes of play in all competitions, and was Rosenlund’s second of the season.
Rochester almost doubled their advantage three minutes later. Forward Tam McManus switched fields with a long diagonal ball to Banks on the right wing. Banks dribbled the ball to the end line, and then slipped his service back to the penalty spot on the ground trying to find Earls, but he could not connect with the ball, and it rolled through the Hammerheads box.
Wilmington had the last quality chance of the first half in the 35th minute. Holmes ran down a long ball over the top for the Hammerheads and he was able to dribble to the end line. He slipped the ball back to Hertzog for a shot from 15 yards out, but Roberts slid in to block the shot.
The Rhinos opened the second half with a chance in the 49th minute as Banks and Traynor combined on the left flank, and Traynor served the ball into Wilmington’s box. The Hammerheads got the ball clear, but only as far as Cost at the top of the penalty area. The Rhinos' midfielder took a shot that Hoxie redirected just wide of the post with a nifty back heel.
One minute later the Rhinos made a mistake in midfield in their own half of the pitch and turned the ball over. Wilmington immediately played a long ball over the top of the Rhinos exposed back four, and Budnyy was in on goal. Nicht was patient as Budnyy approached the Rhinos goal, and he was able to make a double save to deny the Hammerheads the equalizer.
Hammerheads emerging star Bryce Taylor entered in the 66th minute, and it only took him two minutes to change the match. Taylor got loose on the right flank and served a ball into the Rhinos box. Roberts was able to get on the end of Taylor’s cross and head it clear, but Wilmington midfielder Paul Nicholson was first to the rebound at the top of the box. He pounded a shot from the top of the box that beat a diving Nicht to level the score in the 68th minute.
Wilmington had the best chance to win the match in the 83rd minute. Taylor got loose down the right flank off of a throw in and dropped a ball to Hertzog at the top of the box. Hertzog drove a shot on frame, but this time Nicht dove and parried the ball with his right hand to keep the score tied.
The draw leaves the Rhinos in third place in the USL PRO table ahead of tomorrow night’s showdown between the second place Charleston Battery and first place Orlando City in Florida’s Citrus Bowl. Wilmington is now level on points with the fifth place City Islanders ahead of their showdown tomorrow night in Harrisburg.