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Rochester Advances to the Finals
Unlikely Hero Notches Game Winner in 80th Minute

The battle between Rochester and Toronto has been raging on all season. The bad blood began when Toronto ruined Rochester's home opener in May, handing the Rhinos their only loss at home this year. By the time the regular season had ended, neither side was the obvious dominating team, as they played each other six times and finished 2-2-2. After Friday night's match, the series was notched at 2-3-2, with the deciding game to be played tonight in Rochester. The first half was how it has always been between these two teams: both sides managed to mount a few offensive thrusts, only to have them quickly repelled by their defenses.

The second half showed the momentum shift as Rochester went into an uncharacteristic attacking mode. Cross after cross was sent into the box, shot after shot was sent at the net, and if not for the excellent keeping of backup goalie Carmine Isacco, Toronto would have been down 2-0 by the middle of the second half. The only break of the game would come from a most unlikely source. This player had never scored with the Rhinos, but has been crucial to their success over the years. After Carlos Zavala sent in what looked to be a long cross off a free kick, defender Craig Demmin out leaped all the players on the pitch and sent the ball to the far post, past the unsuspecting Isacco. Demmin's first goal as a Rhino could not have come at a better time for Rochester, as this would be enough to lift them past Toronto and send them into the finals where they will host the Minnesota Thunder.

Credit must be given to the Toronto goalkeepers, as each match that we have seen them play; they have been the key to their success. Also, Toronto has turned themselves around from the near-bottom of the Northeast Division last year, to genuine contenders for the Eastern Conference Title.

Inside Track:
· This was the 8th meeting between Rochester and Toronto this season. Rochester earned the slight advantage, with 3 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses.
· The A-League Title Game is at Rochester's Frontier Field at 8:05 PM on Saturday, September 30th.
· The Final is the third time these Rochester and Minnesota have met for the A-League title (Rochester won at home in 1998 and Minnesota won at home in 1999).

Scoring Summary
	1	2	Final
TOR	0	0	0
ROC	0	1	1

Goals: Rochester: Demmin 80th (Zavala)

Rochester Lineup: GK-Vallow, D-Demmin, D-Schweitzer, D-Walton, D-Hardy (Zavala 45th), M-Allnutt, M-Sedgewick, M-Steenkamp, M-Nash (Daligcon 72nd), F-Stebbins, F-Inneh (Sebrango 52nd)

Rating the Rhinos
On a scale of 8 (highest), here's how the Rhinos fared versus Toronto:

      Keith's J-P's  
Pos.   Name Rating Rating Comments
GK Scott Vallow 8.0 8.0 The best thing to happen to keeping in Rochester since Pat Onstad. The league's best goalie wasn't tested much, but kept his head in the game and did all the right things. Will have his hands full in the Final vs. the powerful and accurate Minnesota forwards.
D Craig Demmin 8.0 8.0 The game's MVP. This gentle giant is a force to be reckoned with in the A-League's best defense, and scoring his first goal as a Rhino in the Eastern Conference Final was rather poetic. Will there be an encore on the 30th?
D Scott Schweitzer 7.0 7.0 Played well as a defender and a midfielder?!? Coaches used Scott more offensively in the 2nd half, and it worked very well.
D Tim Hardy/
Carlos Zavala
6.5/7.5 6.5/7.5 Hardy was a surprise start, and a good choice. Zavala finally got a free kick to connect and work! The goal couldn't have come at a more opportune time!
D Mali Walton 6.5 7.0 Has been playing much improved lately. Another convincingly solid night in the A-League stingiest defense.
M Bill Sedgewick 6.5 6.0 Seemed off for most of the game. Did manage a great shot in the 2nd half that kissed the crossbar so hard that the entire goal rattled for a minute or so afterward!
M Nartin Nash 7.0 7.0 Played another solid game at midfield, trying to create chances. His substitution in the 2nd half is still one of those mysteries only a coach can answer…
M Lenin Steenkamp 6.5 7.0 Played well in the midfield and created some chances. Seemed to make a few errors, but victories always help one forget he bad plays.
M Yari Allnutt 7.0 7.0 Played like a true champion and a warrior. Didn't score tonight, but gave 100% again, as is usual business with this guy. Look for him to have an impact in the Title Game.
F Picture Not Available Ernest Inneh 7.0 6.5 Played well, but ineffective. Defensive strategy of 1st half kept the ball mostly away from him.
F Picture Not Available Dan Stebbins 7.0 7.0 Played well again. Did everything necessary to win, including wasting time at the game's end, much to the crowd's bewilderment./td>
- Coaches 7.0 7.0 More offensive-minded in the 2nd half. The last 45' proved to be very entertaining game to watch. Need to be rather offensive versus Minnesota in the Final.

Many Thanks to News Digger John Zukas who scours up all of the local news links during the year.