Rochester traveled to central Pennsylvania for the first of two meetings in USL after the teams played an extra time thriller in Round Three of the U.S. Open Cup on May 27. The Rhinos won that contest with three goals in the second period of extra time; Rochester again relied on late-game attacking prowess to get a result on Friday night.
Jason Plumhoff gave Harrisburg the lead just before halftime but Christian Volesky came off the bench to equalize with just three minutes left in regulation to maintain Rochester's remarkable unbeaten run to start the 2015 USL season.
Starting XI: Adam Grinwis; Pat McMahon, Julian Ringhof, Vasili Apostolopoulos, Sean Totsch; Johnny Mendoza, Mike Garzi, Tony Walls, Marcos Ugarte; Alex Dixon, Steevan Humberto Fortes "Duba" dos Santos
Bench: Brandon Miller, Grant van de Casteele, Tyler Rudy, Kenardo Forbes, Timi Mulgrew, Asani Samuels, Christian Volesky
Rochester head coach Bob Lilley and his staff decided to give a couple key players some rest after two tough games in quick succession. Onua Obasi didn't make the squad, Kenardo Forbes started the game on the bench, and starting goalkeeper Brandon Miller got a well deserved break as Grinwis played between the posts on Friday night.
Colin Rolfe appears to be struggling for fitness as he was left off the matchday squad for Rochester's second league match in a row. Rolfe's industriousness up top may be missing but the Rhinos managed to score a late goal against Harrisburg without the second-year forward.
Enric Valles received a pass in the the center circle, took a touch to control, and scooped a well-weighted pass over the heads of Rochester's defense. Midfielder Jason Plumhoff ran onto the ball and toe-poked it past an on-rushing Adam Grinwis. Vasili Apostolopoulos was helpless as he attempted to catch up to the ball before it trickled over the line to give the home side the lead in the 44th minute.
In the second half, Bob Lilley made a number of changes and utilized all five of his available subs in USL.
Timi Mulgrew and Tyler Rudy both came off the bench for 30 minutes against Harrisburg. Rudy replaced Mike Garzi in central midfield while Mulgrew went up top for Alex Dixon. Rudy has shown well in his games for Rochester and seems to have earned the favor Bob Lilley as a hard-working, defensively responsible player. Mulgrew, on the other hand, had only played 70 minutes in two appearances prior to Friday night.
Marcos Ugarte also made way for Kenardo Forbes in the 60th minute as well. In the 83rd minute, Lilley went to his bench again to bring on forwards Christian Volesky and Asani Samuels, the Jamaican-born forward who had a career-game against Harrisburg in the cup last month.
Leaving the game at that time were right back Pat McMahon, which meant that the team switched to just three in the back, and Duba, who was unable to continue his scoring form. Friday's game against Harrisburg was just Duba's second start without a goal in USL all season and his second game without scoring in Rochester's last six league games.
Throwing four out-and-out attacking players on the field paid dividends for Lilley and Rochester as Volesky found the back of the net in the dying minutes of the game. Tony Walls won the ball from a Harrisburg midfielder on the edge of the attacking third and quickly played a pass on the ground for Volesky.
Volesky received the ball on the left side of the penalty area, cut centrally on Harrisburg's Dante Leverock, and fired his shot low to the far post. Veteran goalkeeper Nick Noble did not have much time to react as Volesky had done well to get his shot off quickly and accurately. Volesky scored the equalizer in the 87th minute of the game.
Several times in recent weeks Volesky has appeared to over-complicate the chances he gets in front of goal. Against Harrisburg, however, the rookie forward fashioned a quality goal from a half-chance on the left edge of the 18-yard box. Even though the team was staring at the very real potential of its first loss of the USL season, Volesky showed immense composure in the penalty area and took his goal with confidence.
After grabbing the late equalizer, Lilley retained his defensive shape but continued to go forward. Tony Walls moved from central midfield to left back but Kenardo Forbes pulled the strings and Rochester looked likely to sneak a winner as regulation wound up.
Sean Totsch showcased his versatility this week for the Rhinos. On Tuesday night Totsch played in midfield and tonight he played both fullback positions. Lilley has spoken in the past about seeking players who are effective in more than one position, like Walls and Totsch, as that allows major tactical switches to transition more smoothly.
Rochester hosts the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, June 27 at Sahlen's Stadium with a chance to equal the club's all-time longest undefeated run of 14 games. The match kicks off at 7:05 as the Rhinos take on former left back Danny Earls and the league's leading goal-scorer Rob Vincent.