The Pittsburgh Riverhounds stunned the Rochester Rhinos 3-2 on Saturday night, earning not only their first USL Pro win of the season, but a historic, first-ever victory at Sahlen’s Stadium.
Brian Fekete and Rob Vincent headed in two perfectly placed corner kicks delivered by Danny Earls, and a late goal by Jose Angulo proved to be the difference for the Riverhounds, earning an important three points against their regional rivals.
In a match with a lot of twists and turns, the Riverhounds responded to an early 1-0 deficit, and being outshot 14-4, by taking advantage of set piece opportunities and a few fortunate bounces.
In 25th minute, the Rhinos struck first, as Riverhounds defender Brian Fekete took down Hugh Dixon as he was making a run near the top of the box. Fekete’s foul set up a free kick from 24 yards.
Minh Vu sent a low, bending shot around the Riverhounds wall, and into the right side of the net to give the Rhinos a 1-0 lead.
Thanks to solid play by Riverhounds goal keeper Mike Lisch, who held off numerous Rhinos shots and crosses, the Riverhounds stayed in the match in the first half.
In the 42nd minute, after Kevin Kerr’s high cross was cleared out past the end line by a Rhinos defender, they notched their first goal at Rochester since 2009.
An unmarked Fekete headed home the equalizer from Earls’ in-swinging, left footed corner kick that even the score in the 42nd minute.
As the second half opened, and the game tied 1-1, Rochester continued to press forward.
In the 51st minute, Lisch made a diving save on Colin Rolfe’s shot from the top of the box.
Then, the turning point of the match may have easily come in the 60th minute, during a sequence of play which Rochester played numerous dangerous balls into the box that were deflected and culminating with a header by Dixon that banged off the crossbar.
Looking to ignite their attack, Riverhounds interim head coach Niko Katic brought Joseph Ngwenya and Jose Angulo off the bench in the next few minutes.
After a nice build-up on the left side, set up by Ngwenya keeping the ball alive in the corner, then playing a ball back to Earls who sent a dangerous cross to Matt Dallman who rifled a shot that was deflected by Rochester goal keeper John McCarthy to set up a corner kick.
Earls sent another perfectly placed ball toward the box that Vincent was able to niftily redirect into the goal with the top of his head, stunning the Rhinos crowd with the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute.
The Rhinos were able to mount possession and after a foul in the arc area in the 77th minute, they set up for a quick restart while the Riverhounds were trying to get organized to set up their wall. Vu drilled a shot into the goal, however, the referee waved off the play to allow the Riverhounds to get set up. The ensuring free kick was collected by Lisch.
Angulo and Ngwenya then connected in the 82nd minute to give the Hounds a 3-1 lead. Angulo making a nice run in space, sent a ball to the left endline that Ngwenya was able to collect, and send back to the goal box for Angulo to one-time into the goal for his third of the season.
In a season where the Riverhounds have lost a number of close matches, they would have to hang on, as this match wasn’t going to be decided until the final whistle.
Tony Walls was taken down on a hard challenge by Sterling Flunder in the 90th minute in the penalty box. J.C. Banks fired home the penalty kick to the right side of the goal, and suddenly the Rhinos were within one goal, 3-2.
The Riverhounds would hold on in the final four minutes of stoppage time — earning their historic first win at Sahlen’s Stadium, as they had been 0-16-2 before Saturday, in all matches at Rochester.
Katic’s starting line-up included: Mike Lisch, Andrew Marshall, Sterling Flunder, Rob Vincent, Brian Fekete, Alfonso Motagalvan, Danny Earls, Dallman, Kevin Kerr, Danny Green and Collins John. Ngwenya came in for Fekete, Angulo for Mike Green and Mike Seth entered for John in the 83rd minute.
The Riverhounds (1-6-4) look to build momentum from this win, as they will now complete this year’s three-game Keystone Derby series with the Harrisburg City Islanders in the coming week. On Wednesday night, June 11, they return to Highmark Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff and then travel to Harrisburg on Saturday, June 14.
This game report is courtesy of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds