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The Charleston Battery defeated the Rochester Rhinos in a dramatic penalty shootout Saturday night at Sahlens Stadium — not only will the battery head to the championship, but the team will host the USL PRO game at home.
Rochester thought they had the game won leading 1-0 with 60 seconds remaining of regulation but former Rhino Tony Donatelli silenced the home crowd as he headed the Battery level to take the game to extra time. It was the first ever goal that the Battery have managed to score in a playoff match in Rochester going all the way back to the 1998 season.
Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, on loan from Major League Soccer's D.C. United, put in a tremendous performance capped by three superb saves in the shootout to put his side in a position to win the game.
Rochester opened the scoring in the 55th minute with a close range finish from forward Kendall McFayden but after Donatelli pulled Charleston level the teams headed to thirty minutes of overtime.
The Battery looked the stronger side and took the game to Rochester looking for a winner. Substitute forward Mack got in behind twice but on both occasions was unable to apply the finish.
The Rhinos responded with a late flurry of chances but the Battery defense led by captain Colin Falvey were strong enough to hold Rochester at bay.
It took seven rounds of penalty kicks to decide the match with Dykstra saving Rochester's final two attempts. Veteran defender John Wilson had the first chance to win the game for the Battery but his left footed strike was smothered by Rhinos goalkeeper Kristian Nicht.
JC Mack stepped up to take the final kick for Charleston and buried his shot into the roof of the net.
The Battery will face the Wilmington Hammerheads on Saturday, September 8, after the Hammerheads knocked off the number one seed, Orlando City 4-3 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Tickets for the USL PRO Championship match will go on sale online Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at www.charlestonbattery.com or at the ticket office Monday morning at 10 a.m.