A red-hot Thomas Stewart scored in the 74th minute and goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek made a dramatic save in stoppage time to lift Republic FC over the Rochester Rhinos 1-0 Friday night in a USL Pro match in Rochester, N.Y.
It was the fourth consecutive win for Republic FC (5-3-1, 16 points) and third in USL Pro play and broke a fourth-place tie with the Rhinos (3-2-4, 13 points), who saw their seven-match unbeaten streakend.
With his back to the goal, Stewart took a short pass from Max Alvarez near the top of the box, tapped the ball with the outside of his right foot to elude defender Kyle Hoffer and, while turning, fired a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Luis Soffner into the right corner of the net. It was the Northern Ireland native’s team-leading fourth goal of the season and third in the last three USL Pro matches.
The Rhinos entered the match having allowed eight goals, second best in USL Pro.
Jakubek, replacing injured Jake Gleeson, used his right hand to flick away a left-footed attempt by JC Banks from the near post just in front of the net deep into stoppage time to preserve the victory.
It was a matchup of the two top-drawing teams in USL Pro. The first-year Republic FC is averaging 19,292 and accounts for one-third of the 14-team league’s attendance. The Rhinos are averaging 5,908.
Republic FC will play the Dayton Dutch Lions (2-4-2, eight points) on Sunday in Ohio.
– Bill Paterson