Rising Advance to Western Conference Finals with 5-4 Win in Penalties
RENO, Nevada - Phoenix Rising FC advanced to the Western Conference Final with a 5-4 win in penalty kicks vs. Reno 1868 tonight at Greater Nevada Field. The shootout followed a 2-2 draw in which 120 minutes of regulation and overtime could not separate the sides.
Phoenix had fallen behind, 2-0, to open the game but came back to tie the match, 2-2, with goals by Kevon Lambert and Solomon Asante. Rising will now host the Western Conference Final next Saturday, October 24 at Casino Arizona Field (7:30 p.m.)
Rising goalkeeper Zac Lubin was called upon in just the fifth minute of the match to make a diving save, low to his right side on Reno forward Corey Hertzog. Lubin did well to get down and slap away the attempt but on the goal kick that followed shortly after, the goalkeeper failed to spot Hertzog, who was lurking on the edge of the area. The forward picked off a short pass and went straight to goal, chipping a simple pass into the back of the net to make it 1-0 Reno in the sixth minute.
A long buildup by Phoenix produced a goal-scoring opportunity for Darnell King in the 19th minute. The final exchange between Kevon Lambert and King, gave a ladder space to fire a low, hard shot towards the corner of the goal from just outside the area. Fortunately for Reno, goalkeeper Ben Beaury was alert and made a diving save to his right save to preserve the one-goal lead.
Lubin stepped in front of a cross and quickly unleased a Rising counter attack through Jon Bakero in the 27th minute. Bakero quickly got the ball to Soloman Asante, who found Rufat Dadashov in the center of the area. Dadashov stepped to his right and fired a shot, but the attempt was blocked away by a Reno defender.
Reno took a 2-0 lead in the 40th minute, when a half-cleared ball landed between two Rising defenders in the area. Reno's Kevin Partida didn't hesitate and stole the lose ball and quickly ran at goal, knocking a low shot into the corner of the goal.
Kevon Lambert pulled a goal back for Rising just before halftime. Santi Moar did the tough work to set up the chance after grabbing the ball 35 yards from goal and sprinting towards the net. Moar turned left, around a defender and got off a low shot that caromed off a Reno defender and landed at the feet of Lambert. The defensive midfielder did well to calmly trap the ball and put a low shot into the corner of the next to make it, 2-1, at halftime.
Lubin once again started off the half with a huge save, charging off his line to cut down on the angle taken by Reno's top scorer, Foster Langsdorf, who was in alone on goal. Langsdorf cut to his right and tried to beat Lubin low, but the goalkeeper read it perfectly and took the ball off his foot to keep the match at 2-1.
The wide-open match continued end-to-end through the 65th minute, with Phoenix outshooting Reno 19-16.
Asante nearly leveled the match in the 69th minute, when a long ball played forward from Damian Lowe to Dadashov popped into the path of the 2019 MVP. Asante stepped through a pair of defenders before firing a shot inches over the crossbar.
Seconds later, at the opposite end. Lubin made his third huge stop of the match, denying Tucker Bone of an insurance goal after he broke free of his defender.
Asante broke through for Phoenix in the 71st minute after Sam Stanton gave everything he had to win a 50-50 ball in the center of the field. Asante used his first touch to expertly push the ball into space and collected it on the other side of the defender going to goal. Rounding the corner on the defender, Asante struck a hard shot to the back post that beat Beaury, over his right shoulder to make it 2-2.
Lubin remained consistent. He made another point-blank save to open the first overtime session. Neither team could test either goalkeeper following Reno's chance in the beginning of overtime and the match went to penalty kicks.
Both teams traded goals through the first four rounds of kicks from the spot, but Lubin rose, high to his right side in the fifth round, pushing a well-placed shot from Reno's captain wide of the post with his fingertips. Dadashov closed out the match with a low shot into the corner of the net to make it a 5-4 final.
RENO - Corey Hertzog 6
RENO - Kevin Partida 40
PHX - Kevon Lambert 45+2
PHX - Soloman Asante (Sam Stanton) 71
Phoenix Rising FC - Zac Lubin, Darnell King, AJ Cochran (Damion Lowe 54), Joey Farrell, Corey Whelan, Sam Stanton (Jose Aguinaga 100), Kevon Lambert, Jon Bakero (Jordan Schweitzer 54), Santi Moar (Joey Calistri 109), Rufat Dadashov, Solomon Asante (Owusu-Ansuh Kontoh 112).
Substitutes not used: Eric Dick, Lagos Kunga.
Reno 1868 FC - Ben Beaury, Brent Richards, Thomas Janjigian (Tony Alfaro 46), Jared Timmer, Sam Gleadle, Sergio Rivas (Younes Boudadi 93), Tucker Bone, Foster Langsdorf (Aidan Apodaca 83), Christiano François, Corey Hertzog, Kevin Partida (Emilio Ycaza 83).
Substitutes not used: Eric De La Cerda, Jesus Enriquez, Benjamin Kikanovic.
PHX - Darnel King (caution) 23
RENO - Thomas Janjigian (caution) 29
PHX - Kevon Lambert (caution) 51
RENO - Tucker Bone (caution) 57
PHX - Damion Lowe (caution) 65
RENO - Foster Langsdorf (caution) 79
RENO - Emilio Ycaza (caution) 90+4
PHX - Santi Moar (caution) 94
RENO - Younes Boudadi (caution) 119
REF: Kevin Broadley
AR1: Ryan Graves
AR2: Justin Howard
4TH: Brandon Stevis
Weather: Clear, 79
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- Rising Advance to Western Conference Finals with 5-4 Win in Penalties - Phoenix Rising FC
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