ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Rhinos created a number of goal-scoring chances, and eventually they broke through with second-half sub Jochen Graf scoring in the 85th minute for a 1-0 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday at Capelli Sport Stadium. It marked the first of two legs in the Capelli Sport Hero Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the regular-season series between Rochester and Harrisburg. The second leg takes place on Aug. 8 at FNB Field in Harrisburg, Pa. Rochester was coming off a scoreless draw against Saint Louis FC this past Wednesday, and Saturday’s had an eerily similar feel until Graf finally put Rochester on the score sheet in the waning minutes. Rochester improves to 6-3-6 (24 points) overall and 5-1-2 at home, while Harrisburg drops to 4-8-4 (16 points) overall and 2-7-1 on the road.
85’ – ROC – Jochen Graf (Joe Farrell)
- #ROCvHAR: Full match and Opta box score
Three Things That Mattered:
- 1. Rochester was on the verge of a second consecutive scoreless draw, but second-half sub Jochen Graf had a beautiful run and finish in the 85th minute to put that thought to bed. The Rhinos’ Joe Farrell provided a strong curling cross from the right, just outside the six-yard area, and Graf made no mistake with the volley into the back of the net for the lone tally. It was Graf’s third goal of the season. Rochester only took nine shots and put four on frame. The Rhinos had been hovering around the City Islanders net for much of the game, and the host side mustered a well-generated sequence to grab the full three points.
- 2. Saturday’s match was the first time 2015 USL Goalkeeper of the Year Brandon Miller faced his former Rochester team. The City Islanders goalkeeper spent 2016 out west with Orange County, so he never was matched up against the Rhinos, where he helped the club win the 2015 USL Cup Final. Miller was tested with regularity against Rochester’s Darius Madison, and Miller shut him down three times in the first half. Madison made a run to split the Harrisburg defense and fired from the right side of the box toward the far left post. Miller came off his line to limit Madison’s options and dove to his right to make a crucial early save in the 11th minute. Then in the 16th minute, Miller came up big once again with a foot save against Madison who gave it a go from the right of the box but came up empty. The pattern continued just before the halftime break when Kenardo Forbes set up Madison in first-half stoppage time, but Madison’s left-footed attempt from 16 yards out was turned away. Harrisburg was only several minutes away from coming away with a road point, but Graf and the Rhinos deservedly came up with a goal to end Harrisburg’s miniature two-game winning streak.
- 3. Harrisburg could not get much going in the attack, and the club faced a significant setback late in the first half when Pedro Ribeiro, the most recent USL Player of the Week, limped off the field with a right-leg injury. Ghanaian striker Ropapa Mensah was brought into the match in the 45th minute. With the Rhinos holding more of the possession and Harrisburg’s midfield struggling to link up with the front, the visiting side was fighting from the first whistle to simply keep Rochester at bay. The City Islanders did not put a shot on frame until the 73rd minute – a partially deflected attempt that was easily handled by Gomez.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Jochen Graf, Rochester Rhinos – Subbing in for Darius Madison, who had a slew of scoring chances, Graf was able to capitalize on his big chance in the closing minutes with the winning goal.