Louisville City FC left it late to defeat the Rochester Rhinos 2-1 at Slugger Field Wednesday night.
George Davis IV gave the boys in purple the lead in the 23rd minute before Jochen Graf equalized at the brink of halftime. Both teams looked content with a point, but Luke Spencer converted a 93rd penalty kick to give City all three points and a comfortable lead in the Eastern Conference standings.
City went into the game yet to beat Rochester at Slugger Field. The Rhinos play organized and disciplined, and their physicality matches up well with City.
Davis had a golden opportunity to put the boys in purple in front after seven minutes. After Rochester failed to clear away Brian Ownby’s run into the box, Kyle Smith fed an unmarked Davis, but the University of Kentucky alum slipped, and the ball rolled past.
O’Connor went to the bench early, ending Ilija Ilic’s night after just 12 minutes. Cameron Lancaster replaced the Serbian.
Rochester warded off City’s waves of pressure but finally broke in the 23rd minute. Davis redeemed his first squandered chance and gave City the lead with a right-footed blast from the edge of the area beating Rochester goalkeeper Tomas Gomez to the left post.
Conceding didn’t faze Rochester. They upped their tempo and chased the ball down with Graf leading the line. Graf’s energy was rewarded in the 43rd minute when he chased down Sean Reynolds in the box. The Texan timed his challenge perfectly and brushed aside Reynolds creating a 1v1 with Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh. Graf curled his shot around Ranjitsingh to even the scoreline.
Despite City holding an 8-2 shot advantage in the first half, halftime came with the tied 1-1.
The second half was played in favor of Rochester. Chances came at a premium with Louisville registering only two second-half shots.
Both teams looked to leave with a point, but a penalty was awarded to City in the 93rd minute for a handball in the box. Spencer stepped up with the pressure on and calmly placed his shot to the right post to give the boys in purple all three points.
After Charleston handily defeated the current second seed in the Eastern Conference, Charlotte, 3-0, City now has a comfortable six-point cushion with a game in hand and five games to go.
City head to the northeast for the next three matches. First up is the Ottawa Fury on Sunday, Sept. 24. Kickoff for the first matchup is slated to begin at 2:00 p.m. They visit Toronto three days later, then play Rochester again on Sept. 27. They return home to face Charlotte on Saturday, Oct. 7.