Wednesday, July 4, 2012
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Rhinos defeated Antigua Barracuda FC 4-1 at Sahlen’s Stadium on Wednesday night as Rhinos head coach Jesse Myers gave newcomer Kendell McFayden his first start of the season, and he responded with two first half goals to pace the side to victory. Antigua superstar Peter Byers pulled one back for the Barracudas, but Andrew Hoxie’s second-half brace put the match out of reach. The victory gives the Rhinos two wins in their last three matches after ending a seven-match winless streak two weeks ago in Richmond.
It only took three minutes for McFayden to open the scoring for Rochester. Rhinos forward Tam McManus played McFayden a through ball, and he finished past sliding Antigua goalkeeper Molvin James to give Rochester a 1-0 lead. The goal was his first of the season while the assist was McManus' second.
After the Rhinos' goal, the Barracudas responded with some pressure on Rochester’s goal. After a Rochester turnover in its own half, Antigua forward Kerry Skepple put Byers through behind the Rhinos' defense in the ninth minute. Rochester center back Troy Roberts was able to track Byers down, and he made a sliding tackle to deny him a shot on goal at the penalty spot.
In the 15th minute, Antigua midfielder Tamarley Thomas was able to make a sophisticated run off the ball between Rhinos right back Lucas Fernandez and center back Tyler Bellamy. Antigua midfielder Randolph Burton played an early ball into the box, and Thomas dribbled in on goal. Rhinos goalkeeper Kristian Nicht was quick off of his line and took it off Thomas' foot before he could shoot on goal.
All of Antigua’s pressure on the Rhinos opened up space behind their back four, and the Rhinos were able to capitalize for one of the first times this year. Rochester right winger JC Banks won the ball in the middle third and played a first time ball over the top to McFayden, who ran the ball down, advanced on James, and calmly finished past the international goalkeeper to double Rochester's lead. The assist was Banks seventh of the season and leaves him two off of the single-season club record of nine.
There would be no denying Byers and Antigua in the 29th minute, however, as the forward ran through Rhinos center midfielder Michael Tanke 40 yards from goal. He settled the ball, took one more touch, and then hit a screamer on goal from 35 yards out. The ball was driven over the head of the 6-foot-5 Nicht and landed in the upper-left corner of the goal to cut the Rhinos' lead to 2-1. It was Byers third goal of the season, and Antigua’s first goal of the season away from home.
After playing the first half in 90 degree heat with stifling humidity, the second half started out a little more slowly. Rochester substitute Isaac Kissi had the first chance of the half in the 66th minute. He got on the end of a bouncing ball from 12 yards out and carefully shaped his finishing touch around James. The Antiguan goalkeeper was able to get his hand on the ball and parry it around the far post. Danny Earls whipped the ensuing corner kick into the near post, but left winger Quavas Kirk flicked his header past the near post.
The Rhinos showed an improved defensive shape in the second half that limited time, space, and chances for Antigua. Fernandez, Roberts, Bellamy, and Earls were much tighter and cohesive in defending as a flat back four. Center midfielders Tyler Rosenlund and Michael Tanke were more dedicated to screening the back four and working hard to control the middle of the park. The improved defensive shape limited Antigua to one shot in the final 45 minutes of the match.
The Rhinos were able to put the match out of reach in the 76th minute when Earls whipped a corner from the right into the near post. This time it found the head of substitute Conor Chinn, who was able to get a header on target. James made a fantastic reflex save, but Hoxie was able to roof the rebound to give Rochester a 3-1 lead.
Hoxie completed his brace in the 80th minute when Kissi played a through ball that the 6-foot-4 Hoxie was able to get on the end of. The big forward displayed his sublime technical skills and finished past a helpless James to make it 4-1.
The victory pulls the Rhinos within two points of idle Charleston for second place in the USL PRO table, but the Battery have two matches in hand. The three points move the Rhinos six points ahead of Wilmington and leaves the Hammerheads with one match in hand.
The next Rhinos home game is Saturday, July 7th at 7:05 p.m. against the Dayton Dutch Lions at Sahlen’s Stadium. Tickets can be purchased by calling 585-454-KICK, by visiting rhinossoccer.com, or by visiting any Ticketmaster retail location.