Defense paces Lancers to another win, into 2nd place

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- For the second consecutive game, the Rochester Lancers turned a stalwart defensive performance into a win.

Led by goalkeeper Jakeb Mitchell and solid performance by the backline, the Lancers recorded a 7-2 victory over the Muskegon Risers in Major Arena Soccer League 2 action at the Unique Boutique Arena at Total Sports Experience on Friday night.

Mitchell made 16 saves for Rochester, which blanked Muskegon for the final 31:38, including the entire second half. In his previous match, Mitchell backstopped the Lancers to a 4-2 home win over the Iowa Demon Hawks on Feb. 25.

The Lancers (6-1-0, 17 points) climbed into second place in the North Division, only one point behind leader Demon Hawks (6-3-1, 18). They can take over the division lead by defeating the Risers (2-9-0, 5) at the same venue on Saturday at 7:45 p.m.

Matthew Sawaged led Rochester with two goals and an assist. Vadim Cojovoc bagged a brace. Joey Tavernese, Matt D'Amico and Taner Bay added single tallies.

The Lancers set the tone for the match, dominating the opening quarter en route to a 2-0 lead.

Cojovoc put the hosts on the board at 4:13 as he scored from a difficult angle on the right side off a pass from Alex Harling.

Sawaged doubled the advantage at 5:59. Goalkeeper Jakeb Mitchell threw a long pass down field, which a Muskegon player tried to head away. The ball went to Sawaged, who drilled home his fifth goal of the camapaign.

Rochester could have added to its spoils by goalie Jake Lofgren made several big-time saves to keep the visitors within striking distance.

The Risers finally solved Mitchell in the second period as Cesar Alayo recorded a shootout goal to slice the margin to 2-1 at 5:41.

Only 17 seconds later, the Lancers, however, restored their two-goal lead as Tavernese tallied from the top of the box.

Cojocov netted his second of the night at 11:05 for a three-goal margin, but Taylor Pill took advantage of a Rochester miscommunication and cut the halftime score to 4-2 with his 10th goal of the season at 13:22.

After a scoreless third quarter, Rochester broke open the game by connecting for two goals within a 24-second span. First, Sawaged drilled a shot from the right side for a 5-2 advantage at 4:15 before D'Amico made it 6-2 from the same side at 4:39.

Bay closed out the scoring with a power-play goal at 13:24 after Muskegon was caught with six men on the field.

The Lancers will play their final two road matches next weekend. They visit the Iowa Raptors on Saturday night, March 18 before meeting the Demon Hawks for a Sunday matinee on March 19.

Rochester returns home to TSE to finish up its 12-game regular season against the Raptors on Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25. Both games kick off at 7:45 p.m.