Riverhounds blank Rochester for 1st home victory
The Riverhounds offense finally got in gear, but it took a spark from the defense to do it.
Defenders Andrew Marshall and Alfonso Motagalvan netted a second-half goal each, and the Riverhounds got their first USL Pro home win of the season, 2-0 over Rochester on Friday at Highmark Stadium.
After the game, which catapulted the Riverhounds (3-9-5) from last place to a tie for 11th in the 14-team league, Riverhounds players and coaches went directly to the Steel Army supporters' section behind the goal to shake hands and celebrate the end of three months of home frustration.
“It feels good to give them what they deserve, and I wish it came sooner,” Marshall said. “That's the kind of season we've had, but we're not giving up. We're not getting ahead of ourselves, but two wins in a row is a start.”
Said Riverhounds interim coach Niko Katic: “It's a great feeling, but we knew it was going to come. These guys have put so much work into it, and it translates on the field. It's finally paying off after four hard weeks of training. Everybody was awesome tonight.”
The teams played a scoreless first half that largely was without scoring chances and saw the Rhinos (6-6-6) have the edge in possession.
The Riverhounds broke the deadlock in the 51st minute. Matt Dallman, who started at right back instead of his usual right midfield position, got loose down the right flank and attempted to cross the ball, but Rochester defender Pat Slogic put an arm to the cross just outside of the penalty area.
Danny Earls, a former Rhinos player, curled the ensuing free kick toward the near post, and Marshall was the first to meet it with a glancing header that redirected it past goalkeeper John McCarthy.
“Our last home game, Danny took a shot from (the same position), and I was late getting there,” Marshall said. “I looked at his face and knew it was coming again, so I bulldozed my way through. It wasn't a clean touch, but somehow I got it through.”
A second set-piece goal doubled the advantage 15 minutes later.
Dallman's inswinging corner kick sailed toward the far post, where Motagalvan — also a former Rhinos player — redirected it with his hip into the open net.
The Riverhounds then played sound defense for the final 25 minutes to help protect the second shutout of the season for goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap, who needed to make just two saves.