Facing a daunting task, the Milwaukee Rampage needed to become the first team to win in Rochester this season to keep their A-League championship hopes alive. Although they held tough, the Rampage could not prevent the Raging Rhinos from advancing to their fourth consecutive title match.
Neathan Gibson scored his second-game winning goal of the series and Rochester held on for the 1-0 victory. The Rhinos will move on to the A-League National Champion-ship and face the Hershey Wildcats next Saturday at 7:00 p.m. CT in a game that will be televised live on Fox Sports World.
Having lost the first leg in Milwaukee, 3-2, on Thursday, the Rampage needed to win by one goal to force an overtime tiebreaker and at least two goals to win the series out-right. But, Rochester, who entered the match with 12 victories and three draws at Frontier Field this season, came out strong and continued to dominate until Gibson's strike in the 41st minute.
Gibson's goal came on a free kick taken by former Minnesota Thunder midfielder Stoian Mladenov. The Rhinos applied relentless pressure in the first half, outshooting Milwaukee, 16-4, earning eight corner kicks and several close range free kick opportunities. But, Mladenov's was all they would need.
The native of South Africa headed a shot past Rampage goalkeeper Dan Popik from close range after Mladenov's free kick from just outside the penalty area.
Milwaukee was able to apply some late pressure on Rhinos 'keeper Scott Vallow, but could not put any serious efforts on goal.
After holding the offensive tandem of Digital Takawira and Steve Butcher shotless in the first leg of the series, the Rochester defense, headed by Scott Schweitzer and Kalin Bankov limited the duo to a lone shot by Butcher Saturday.
The Rampage end their season in the league semi-finals for the second straight year after compiling a 14-10-2 regular season record and a 20-13-5 record overall.
MILWAUKEE RAMPAGE 0
ROCHESTER RAGING RHINOS 1
Rochester Gibson (Mladenov) 41
Rampage - Dan Popik; Destin Makumbu, Alen Soso, Judah Cooks; Steve Bernal (Mike Slivinski 67), Igor Soso, Jason Russell, Matt Bobo (Brian Dohery 74), Philippe Godoy (Ollie Ellsworth 55); Steve Butcher (Dennis Fadeski 64), Digital Takawira.
Rochester - Scott Vallow; Scott Schweitzer (Fuseini Dauda 89), Mali Walton, Bill Sedgewick, Kalin Bankov; Nate Daligcon (Tommy Tanner 70), Stoian Mladenov, Mar-tin Nash, Lenin Steenkamp; Kirk Wilson (Michael Kirmse 87), Neathan Gibson (Jimmy Tanner 77).
Statistics: Shots Saves Fouls Offsides CKs
Rampage 9 4 24 0 2
Rochester 26 3 24 1 11
Rampage - I.Soso 38, Cooks 45, Godoy 45, Doherty 81.
Rochester - Schweizter 16, Michael Kirmse 90.