Meanwhile, the Rochester Raging Rhinos wrapped up the 2006 season in the United Soccer Leagues' First Division on Saturday, and they certainly didn't get the ending they wanted on a cold, wet, dreary night.
In the USL First Division championship game, the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps thoroughly outplayed a Rhinos team that was looking to secure its first title since 2001. In the end, the Whitecaps came away with a 3-0 win.
The game hinged on two key plays. In the ninth minute, an apparent goal by Rochester defender Kenney Bertz was waved off by an offsides call. Then, in the waning seconds of the first half, Vancouver broke a scoreless tie when Rochester inadvertently put the ball in its own goal, giving a point to the Whitecaps. The Rhinos never recovered from those two bad breaks and collapsed in the second half.
"Tonight we weren't the best team on the field," said Rochester goalkeeper and captain Scott Vallow, his playoff scruff still on his face. "I don't think we deserved to win. Tonight we just didn't have it."
But the crushing title-game loss couldn't dampen a season in which coach Laurie Calloway molded a group of relative youngsters into one of the best teams in the league. "We're all disappointed," Calloway said, "but we can all reflect on the positives."