Rhinos advance with scoreless draw
Rochester wins 2-1 on aggregate score
MONTREAL, QUE -- The Montreal Impact was knocked out of the first playoff round, Sunday, following a 0-0 tie against the Rochester Rhinos in front of 8,455 spectators at Claude Robillard Stadium.
The Rhinos therefore won the Northeast Division final, a two-game, aggregate-goal series, thanks to their 2-1 victory in the first leg, played Friday in Rochester.
The Montreal squad needed nothing less than a win to at least force overtime, but was unable to get the necessary goal although it dominated Rochester 11 shots to six.
Mauro Biello, the Impactís leading scorer this season, missed a penalty kick at the 15th minute of play, his shot bouncing off the crossbar.
"I missed the penalty kick and it cost us, itís my fault, thereís not excuse," said Biello. "I needed to put that one away, if I would have scored it would have been an entirely different match. I simply tried to take a clean shot, and I did, but I let the guys down. But weíll be back next year, this is a young team with a bright future."
The Montreal squad, taking part in the playoffs for the seventh time in 10 A-League seasons, was eliminated from the first playoff round for the third time in club history, but the first time since the 1996 season.
"I donít see anything negative about todayís game, except for the fact that we didnít score," said Impact head coach Bob Lilley. "We outplayed them, but you canít control the bounces around the goal. Iím proud of the guys because we created scoring chances and we minimized theirs, and thatís all you can do. I canít question the playersí effort and their performance."
The Impact had a strong start as young players Sita-Taty Matondo and Antonio Ribeiro provided some sparks up front in support of veterans Biello and Martin Nash. Matondo was brought down in the penalty area at the 14th minute, prompting referee Silvio Petrescu to award a penalty kick.
Biello, Nash and substitute Ali Ngon had Montrealís best chances in the second half. Nash received his second yellow card of the match in injury time, but the official whistled the end of the game a few seconds later.
"We have to remember that weíre a better team than we were last year, we accomplished a lot, and we just need to keep improving next year," pointed out Lilley, whose team finished on top of the Eastern Conference with a record of 16-6-6 and finished tied for first place overall in the A-League with the Milwaukee Wave United. "Rochester has a lot of talent and experience in the playoffs and yet, we had them on the ropes for the last 30 minutes in Rochester and for all of todayís game."
Since the Rhinos joined the A-League in 1996, this was the fourth time that these two teams squared off in post-season play and every time, the Rhinos came out on top.
ROC: Schweitzer 15, Lavrinenko 65, Wilson 72, Hayes 81
MON: Roberto 4, Nash 63, 89, Francois 89
MON: Nash 89
Referees: Silviu Petrescu, Dominic Rosetto, Jules Bocarro, Nick Theodorakis