Rochester Rhinos hosted FC Montreal for a sunny, but chilly Saturday afternoon USL contest. Despite a rather drab first half, the game sprang to life after the break and Rochester came out with a 2-1 win. Rhinos fans showed up in force and made their presence felt during the game especially during the raucous nine-minute period in which all goals were scored.
Ryan James received a pass from Joe Farrell and the winger, just introduced three minutes earlier, attempted to play the ball back to his defender. Instead of finding the feet of either Farell or Apostolopoulos, the ball split the pair and allowed Montreal forward Charles Joly to race through on goal. Joly took a touch forward and was able to run around the ball while Grinwis came off his line to ease the ball into the far corner in the 48th minute.
The Rhinos did not trail at home for the whole regular season in 2015 and was only behind for about 3 minutes in this game.
Marcos Ugarte picked up an attempted clearance from Montreal defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguere in the middle of the field and drove forward with menace. Ugarte raced into the Montreal area and got the ball up to Volesky near the corner of the six-yard box. Volesky took a first-time shot with his left foot to beat Maxime Crepeau at the near post to tie the game in the 52nd minute.
Just two minutes later Vasili Apostolopoulos was fouled by Montreal midfielder Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare while jostling in the box on a corner kick. Who else, but Volesky stepped up to face Crepeau from the spot and duly dispatched his penalty to the right side of the net.
After the game I spoke to two-goal hero Christian Volesky, who now has 7 goals in 5 career games against Montreal, about the physical play by the visitors early in the game. "It definitely motivates me. I'm a confident player when it comes to playing Montreal. I don't know what it is, I can't explain it but for me, I just want to continue my success against other teams as well. It's interesting that they focus on me, but that's a compliment."
Volesky now has three goals on the season and started 2015 strongly as well. With the departure of Colin Rolfe, the second-year Rhino is planning to put his name in the boxscore more often this season. "As many wins as we get as a team is important but double digits is an ultimate goal for myself. There are fewer strikers but as Steevan gets back it's going to be a shared load. Hopefully we can play together a bit because we're both a handful. Moving forward it's definitely exciting for me to get the opportunity to play more minutes."
Speaking to media, Volesky noted the atmosphere at the team's season opener as having a positive impact on the players. "I feel like the fans were very supportive of us, they showed a lot of energy today especially after the goal and the second goal. They were backing us to the end and we want to keep seeing fans out here."
"It's massive for us. We have a few young guys so as long as we keep winning they'll learn the trade. It's something that you learn; how to win. We don't drop points at home. We were undefeated at home last year and we want to continue doing that this year."
Volesky told media that the immediate response after going behind will add confidence in the locker room. On the comeback: "It builds a lot of team camaraderie. We know we'll be able to come back in every single game now moving forward. As long as we continue to do that, we'll be in good shape at the end of the season come playoff time."
Rochester head coach Bob Lilley did not allow himself to be swept up in the jovial atmosphere after the Rhinos home opening victory. He told media that the performance needs to be better against stronger opposition and that not every team will gift the Rhinos a path back so easily after going ahead. With Tony Walls in camp for a second week and the addition of players pending international clearance, the team should head into next week's contest with more confidence.