The Rochester Rhinos jumped out to a 2-0 lead just after halftime, and held off a furious comeback attempt by USASA side Phoenix SC to hold on for a 2-1 victory at Sahlen’s Stadium in the First Round of the 2011 U.S. Open Cup.
The Rhinos came close to scoring early in the contest when Phoenix SC defender Jack Pocorobba cleared a Tyler Bellamy header off the line. Midway through the first half Rochester did take the lead on a goal from JC Banks in the 27th minute. Max Ferdinand fed a pass to Banks, who proceeded to beat Phoenix goalkeeper Tony Praticio for the goal.
Just after halftime the Rhinos were awarded a penalty kick after Ferdinand was fouled in the area by Praticio. Anthony Hamilton stepped up to convert the spot kick and give the Rhinos a 2-0 lead. Michael Tanke nearly made it 3-0 a few minutes later, but his shot went just wide of the post.
In the 71st minute Phoenix pulled themselves back into the game when Scott Rowling fired a low shot past the diving Rhinos GK Ryan Kenny.Phoenix kept up the pressure and nearly tied the game minutes later, but Kenny came off line to clear the ball out of the penalty area and thwart the threat.
Hamilton nearly added an insurance goal late in the game, but his shot was stopped by Praticio, and the rebound bounced off the crossbar.
The Rhinos will take on the Harrisburg City Islanders in the second round on June 21, at the Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg.
Postgame interview with Rhinos head coach Bob Lilley