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.
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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