Story by John Bourgeois
Picture by Dominique Gardner
Conditions were sweltering on Sunday afternoon as FC Buffalo was in town to face Rochester River Dogz FC in the second leg of the I-90 Rivalry. In the franchise debut and season opener, the River Dogz took the first leg 1-0 at Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium in Buffalo.
The River Dogz shot out of the gate, and in just the fifth minute, winger Anthony Gaglianese got to the end line and fired a ball across the goal from the left side. Matthew Tucker snuck in behind FC Buffalo’s defense and tucked away the chance from close range to give the River Dogz a 1-0 lead.
The River Dogz would double their lead in the 30th minute, when midfielder Gianluca Cuomo got free at the top of the box and fired a left-footed laser that careened off the wood work. Tucker found himself in the right place at the right time in front of the net, and calmly buried the rebound for his second goal of the match.
FC Buffalo fought back, and was able to cut the lead in half in the 40th minute. Forward Romario Guscott was able to hold onto possession and cut a ball back into the box from the end line. Midfielder Kieran Toland got free and found himself on the end of the service, and was able to tuck the ball just inside the near post to bring the score to 2-1 at half time.
River Dogz head coach Matt Tantalo made two changes at half time, bringing on Lenny Wilson to replace Cameron Hogg in net and Moulid Mohamed to replace Sam King in the back. The Wolves were quick to test the new keeper Wilson, as he was forced off his line to make a play under a minute into the second half, where he was able to win the ball and hold onto it to prevent FC Buffalo from taking back the momentum to start the half.
In the 59th minute, FC Buffalo defender Chris Walter was shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Ben Derleth. Following the foul FC Buffalo decided to make some changes by bringing on Isaiah Barrett and Kendell McFayden – the former Rochester Rhino – hoping to bring a spark to the team for the remaining thirty minutes of the match.
The referee caused a stir-up in the 80th minute, as Walter, who had previously been booked for FC Buffalo, tackled River Dogz substitute Austin Gerber as they raced to be the first to a long ball down the flank. Walter’s slide connected with Gerber yards from the ball, but the referee chose not to show Walter his second yellow of the match, saving FC Buffalo from going down a man at a time they could ill afford to.
Lenny Wilson made some brilliant stops in the last ten minutes to preserve the win for the Dogz, capped off by an acrobatic denial of Barrett in the 86th minute and a calm save of a header by Ian McGrath in stoppage time to keep the score at 2-1.
The River Dogz next match is away to AFC Cleveland on July 2nd at Independence High School, and FC Buffalo travels to Gannon University on July 2nd to take on Erie Commodores FC.