Rochester hosted Harrisburg at Sahlen's Stadium on August 23 but threw the game away after going a man up in the first half on that contest. The following week, the Rhinos traveled to Harrisburg to take on the City Islanders in a markedly different game. The visitors snagged a goal in the first minute and, despite an equalizer in the middle of the first half, continued to press the issue.
Rochester starting lineup:
John McCarthy; Onua Obasi (87'), Kyle Hoffer, Babacar Diallo, Pat McMahon; Tony Walls, Alec Sundly (76'), Tyler Rosenlund, Johnny Mendoza (72'); Alex Dixon (83'), JC Banks
Subs: Luis Soffner, Patrick Slogic (76'), Jossimar Sanchez (87'), Lance Rozeboom (72'), Minh Vu, Levi Houapeu, Colin Rolfe (83')
In the first minute Tony Walls break up a Harrisburg attack and Tyler Rosenlund played a fantastic ball into the channel for Johnny Mendoza to run onto. Mendoza's centering pass, looking for JC Banks, hit Harrisburg defender Coady Andrews and trickled past goalkeeper Brian Silvestre.
Harrisburg appeared shell-shocked after the early own goal but regained their composure relatively quickly. Yann Ekra, the home side's quintessential deep-lying playmaker played a perfect pass into the path of Morgan Langley. Langley blew past Rochester's static defense, controlled the long ball, and cleverly hit his shot between the legs of an on-rushing John McCarthy.
Early in the second half, right back Pat McMahon won a free kick up the right wing that Banks served into the area. The ball fell to Walls who found Sundly with an improvised shot/pass and Sundly tapped in from close range. Harrisburg had a few gripes on the goal as Walls shoved Andrews and Sundly appeared to be offside. For his protestations Andrews received a yellow card as the Rhinos retook the lead.
The goal stood and Sundly was credited with his second goal of the campaign. The Revolution's on-loan midfielder has been ever-present for Rochester and has found himself filling in farther up the field as the season has progressed.
JC Banks and Johnny Mendoza forced an awful defensive mistake in the 65th minute. Banks pressured Silvestre to play a poor pass out wide to Raphael Cox and then Mendoza applied pressure to the fullback. Cox attempted to play a pass back to Andrews but Banks was lurking, picked up the errant pass, and curled his shot to the far post past Silvestre.
The goal gave Rochester a two-goal lead with 25 minutes to play. Instead of resting on their laurels, the Rhinos enjoyed their soccer for the remainder of the game. Senegalese-born, French-raised centerback Babacar Diallo (known to Revolution country for his red card tackle at the end of the U.S. Open Cup match this year) scored the team's fourth goal on a corner kick in the 83rd minute.
Diallo rose up to meet the right sided corner kick from Banks and hit his header downwards. However, Diallo's header immediately hit Yann Ekra in the area and fell to the ground. As Ekra attempted to clear the ball, Diallo stuck his left foot in the way and the deflection looped into the corner of the net.
How jazzed was Diallo to score his first goal for the Rhinos in USL Pro! Look at the big man injuring teammates with his high-fives.
The 4-1 scoreline was the first time the Rhinos scored 4 goals in a single game all season. Rochester has not been known for its strong offensive showings in recent years and has only managed one 4-goal game in each USL Pro season: 4-3 at Phoenix FC on August 16, 2013; 4-1 at home vs Antigua Barracuda FC on July 4, 2012; 4-0 at home vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds on August 19, 2011.
With this result, and other results around the league, Rochester can now move into the playoffs with a win or tie against Wilmington this weekend. That game, on Sunday afternoon, is actually the last match of the regular season so the team may qualify before kickoff depending on how Pittsburgh and Oklahoma City fare in their matches.
Credit to head coach Bob Lilley for motivating his team to get the biggest win of the season when the team had its back against the wall. Can they carry this momentum through this weekend's match against Wilmington and into the postseason?
Kickoff at Sahlen's Stadium against Wilmington Hammerheads FC is on 4:05PM on Sunday, September 7.