Jr. Rhinos Do Battle In The Empire Cup

Coach Rene Tadal’s squad looked to continue their winning ways from last weekend’s Northern Ohio championship. The team’s Saturday morning wake-up call came in the person of the Pittsburgh North Stars, and by the time the Rhinos responded they found themselves facing a three-goal deficit. The North Stars controlled the first half of play and blistered numerous shots on net. It wasn’t until midway through the second half that the Rhinos found their groove.

Captain Jess Graus, hobbled by a calf injury that would limit her playing time all weekend, jump started the team by winning a ball at midfield and fed Maura Wojak. Graus’s teammates responded, and the Rhinos began dictating the pace and flow of the game. With fifteen minutes remaining in the game Amanda Coffey controlled an errant pass and drilled a shot from twenty-five feet away to beat the Pittsburgh goalie. Final score: Pittsburgh 3 Rochester 1.

The team continued their momentum during the day’s second game as they squared off against the Bryst Academy of Toronto. Jordan Pringle wasted little time as she scored her first of three goals five minutes into the game. Pringle’s goal was setup by the all-out hustle of Ellie Hamilton who stole a pass and made a nifty cutback before taking a shot. Pringle pounced on the rebound and air mailed it into the back of the net.

Eleven minutes later Wojak scored her first of two goals by capitalizing on a rebound opportunity. Pringle closed out the scoring for the half off a great feed by Coffey.

Wojak opened the second-half scoring. Bre Smith threaded a pass between two opposing defenders and freed Wojak for an open shot. Bryst responded with a goal of their own one minute later. But the Rhinos recaptured their momentum. Hamilton converted a Pringle pass and scored at the seventy-one minute mark. Pringle would finish the scoring for the day one minute later. Midfielder Kelly Daly created a breakaway chance with a strong throw-in, and Pringle delivered the team’s sixth and final goal of the game.

On Sunday the Rhinos played a determined Greece Eclipse team. Once again the Rhinos struggled early in the game as evidenced by the Eclipse winning the shot on net battle in the first half by a seven-to-three margin. The defensive corps of Jess Jones, Kasey Welch, and Leah Wilklow refused to give in and didn’t allow any goals.

At halftime Tadal switched to a five midfielder alignment, and the adjustment made all the difference. With Kristin Blair, Nikole Raschiatore, Wojak, Hamilton, and Smith controlling the midfield, forwards Angela Gatti , Emily Wyse, Cece Gotham, Abbey Gotham, had their chances. The first of two good opportunities came from Daly who made a spirited rush up the field that unfortunately resulted in her re-injuring her ankle. The subsequent corner kick created a flurry of opportunity, but the squad could not capitalize. Moments later Welch made a rush of her own. The defender settled a clearing pass and dribbled past two opponents before being stopped by the Eclipse goalie. ‘AT’ Taylor made ten saves for the shutout.

Tadal’s troop plays two league games this week and one next week before traveling to the Colombia Invitational over Memorial Day weekend

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