ROCHESTER, NY -- The Vancouver Whitecaps captured their first USL First Division Championship in their 14th season in the league with Head Coach Bob Lilley ending his winless playoff history in Rochester (0-7-0) with a 3-0 victory Saturday night. It was the first win by the visiting team in league history in a single game final in 16 occasions.
A Joey Gjertsen cross into the box in the 45th minute opened the scoring when it was deflected by Rhino defender Nate Craft just inside the far post for an own goal and a 1-0 lead for the visitors seconds before the break.
Nine minutes into the second half Gjertsen set up the second goal. Charging down the right side of the field and into the box, he sent the ball into the center of the box as a defender came sliding in and foud Tony Donatelli open 14 yards out. Donatelli took a touch to set up his shot, burying the ball over the shoulder of Scott Vallow from 13 yards out.
From there, the Vancouver midfield and defense clamped down on the play, limiting the Rhinos opportunities the remainder of the second half.
A shot from Gjertsen from 24 yards out nearly made it 3-0 in the 62nd minute, but it sailed just over the bar.
The Rhinos, who had the better of play and had a goal negated by offsides in the first 10 minutes of the first half, had a series of chances to cut into the lead down the stretch however.
Connally Edozien sent a cross from the right side of the box in the 66th minute, but Jonathan Steele's header at the far side went just wide.
In the 78th, a ball into the center of the box was missed on a bicycle kick attempt from Charles Gbeke, but fell to Steele, who missed a wide open opportunity.
Nine minutes from time, the Rhinos got the ball deep into box with John Ball, but could not get a good shot off.
The final goal in the 86th minute was a stunner as Sita-Taty Matondo came off the bench to score within second of entering the game. A through ball up the middle from David Testo sent Matondo on a breakaway that drew Vallow out. Matondo beat Vallow outside the box and slipped the ball home for the commanding lead to seal the championship.
Jeff Clarke was honored as the USL First Division Championship Game Most Valuable Player for his play at midfield.
The USL First Division championship gave the Whitecaps organization a 'double' for the year after claiming the W-League Championship in August in Vancouver. They are the third to accomplish the feat with Long Island winning the W-League and USL Second Division titles in 1995 and Mass Premier Soccer winning the W-League (Boston Renegades) and Premier Development League (Cape Cod Crusaders) in 2002.