Originally posted to Voyageurs Soccer Talk message board.

Game Report from Rochester Democrat and Chronicle...and the Road Trip Chronicles
by Grasshopper

Bring on the Thunder

Rhinos head to A-League finals thanks to Demmin

By Jeff DiVeronica
Democrat and Chronicle

(September 25, 2000) -- For three seasons,
Craig Demmin has saved the Rochester
Rhinos by keeping balls out of the net.

Last night, he did it by putting one in.

Locked in a scoreless tie in the 80th
minute and fighting for their playoff lives
against gritty Toronto, Demmin scored his
first goal as a Rhino. His leaping header off
Carlos Zavala's free-kick cross to the far
post gave Rochester a 1-0 win and sent the
Rhinos to a third straight A-League
Championship Game and fourth in five

"That's why he's our MVP," injured team
captain Tommy Tanner said about Demmin
in a boisterous Rhinos locker room.

The three-time Eastern Conference champion Rhinos (21-9-3) will play
the three-time champs from the West, the Minnesota Thunder (24-5-4),
for the title for the third consecutive year. The match is at 8:05 p.m.
Saturday at Frontier Field, where the Rhinos are 17-1.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today. Season-ticket holders have until 5
p.m. Wednesday to buy their seats.

The Rhinos beat Minnesota 3-1 at Frontier in 1998, but the Thunder
returned the favor last year, winning 3-1 on its own home turf.

Without Demmin's first goal since 1997 when he played in Jackson,
Miss., fourth-seeded Rochester might not have survived No. 7 Toront and
made it to Saturday night.

"A player under pressure elevates his game, and sometimes you find an
unusual player doing an extraordinary thing," coach Pat Ercoli said of
Demmin, the hulking, 6-foot-2, 200-pound native of Trinidad and Tobago
who has been voted Rhinos MVP by his teammates in all three of his
seasons here.

Demmin sure elevated on the goal. He was about 10 yards out and just
wide of the left post and soared above two defenders and teammate
Eduardo Sebrango. The ball slipped just below the crossbar and above
goalkeeper Theo Zagar.

"The ball was struck well and stayed in the air to give me some time,"
Demmin said.

Said Tanner: "He jumped three feet above them."

Zavala (four assists) said the ball is usually supposed to go to the near
post and someone is supposed to head it to the back post. "You have to
switch if off sometimes," said Zavala, a halftime substitute for Tim Hardy
at left defender. "Obviously, with Craig up there it helps."

"You've been saving that for three years for when it really mattered, huh?"
defender Scott Schweitzer said, teasing Demmin.

Demmin wanted to go forward earlier in the game. The Rhinos
desperately needed a goal. A scoreless tie would have meant 30 minutes
of sudden-death overtime. If the Lynx (16-12-5) managed to keep OT
scoreless, they would have won the two-game, total-goal series because
they had more home goals based on Friday's 1-1 tie in Canada.

"I was itching to go up sooner," said Demmin, who knew without 6-3
forward Onandi Lowe, who was suspended for the match but can play
Saturday, the Rhinos lacked one of their aerial threats.

Schweitzer, of all people -- Schweitzer will admit he's not known for
playing if safe -- told Demmin to wait until the last 20 minutes before
going up. "I felt we really needed me up there," he said.

"He definitely deserves (the praise)," Zavala said of the Rhinos' quiet,
classy leader who has been wearing the captain's armband in Tanner's

The Rhinos had already hit two crossbars -- Ernest Inneh on a header in
the first half and Bill Sedgewick on a 20-yard blast in the 76th minute.
They began to flood the Toronto zone and took nine corner kicks in the
second half, but couldn't score.

"Our blood started racing and the fans got more into it," goalie Scott
Vallow said.

Fatigue was setting in for Toronto, which had the thinner roster, but
Rochester still needed a spark.

"I thought we'd go to OT because that's how it has gone this year. We've
had to fight for everything," Schweitzer said.

But fittingly their MVP rose to the occasion.

"Honestly, scoring the goal doesn't mean as much as winning," Demmin
said. "And having the chance to win another championship."

Posted on Sep 25 2000, 7:41 AM
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