Rochester, NY (WWBT)- A fifth minute tally by Luke Vercollone and a solid defense was enough to carry the Richmond Kickers to a 1-0 win against the USL PRO powerhouse Rochester Rhinos Saturday night. Closing out a two-game road trip with four points on the weekend, the Kickers were led by Ronnie Pascale who posted 10 saves to preserve his second shutout of the season.
The opening minutes of the match set the tone for the evening as two close calls and the lone goal of the night occurred directly out of the gates. The Rhinos pressured Kickers goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale twice inside the first six minutes. First, midfielder Tyler Rosenlund lined up a free kick 20 yards out, but with open options on either side of the box, he aimed directly for goal. Pascale bobbled the initial shot but was able to recover quickly.
The Kickers answered back on the counter attack when midfielder Nozomi Hiroyama received a long ball on the left wing and sliced through the Rochester defense. The Japanese International unleashed a 20-yard curler to the far post that was destined for goal but instead rattled the crossbar, allowing Vercollone to finish the rebound with a diving header to the opposite corner to give the visitors the early lead.
Nearly leveling the score 30 seconds later, defender Quavas Kirk drove down the right flank and delivered a cross to Danny Earls, in prime scoring position but Pascale once again threw himself into the line of fire to squelch the attack.
Pascale was forced into action again in the 28th minute when Earls delivered an inswinger into the box, connecting with George Kyriazis at the penalty spot but the Kickers veteran 'keeper extended to tip his point-blank attempt over the bar.
Narrowly missing the chance to take a two-goal lead into the break, midfielder Stanley Nyazamba played Ryan Heins through the defense in the 36th minute. Splitting the defenders and with sights set on his target, Heins struck to the far post but his driven shot glanced just wide.
In the waning seconds of the half, the Rhinos pressed for the equalizer when JC Banks drew a foul 25 yards out. Midfielder Thomas McManus rocketed the free kick towards the upper right corner but Pascale reached to push it over the bar once more.
Richmond kicked off the final 45 on the defensive, stifling the Rhinos attack and withstanding a barrage of second half shots. Pascale picked up where he left off, making a pair of second half saves to protect his clean sheet. Dangerous on the wing, Banks dashed down the line and released a resolute strike from 12 yards out but Pascale extended to his left to bat the ball away from the far post in the 57th minute.
Threatening again 10 minutes later, the Rhinos squandered a scoring opportunity when the ball pinged around a crowded box before eventually finding an open Conor Chinn near the endline. The second half substitute struck from a difficult angle only to be denied by side netting.
Bringing four points home from the weekend, the Kickers return to City Stadium on Saturday, June 9, to host the Charlotte Eagles at 7:00pm.