Reno 1868's Corey Hertzog celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the Western Conference Semifinals against Phoenix Rising.
RENO – Reno 1868 was knocked out of the USL playoffs in the Western Conference Semifinals at home Saturday by the dreadful means of penalty kicks against Phoenix Rising FC.
The match was tied at 2-2 by the end of 90 minutes and no goals were scored in extra time, forcing 700 fans to stomach a nerve-racking showdown of penalties kicks.
Both teams scored their first four penalties, but the deciding penalty was Reno's fifth penalty by Aidan Apodaca. The shot was struck toward the right side of goal and was met by the Phoenix goalkeeper, Zac Lubin, keeping the 4-4 tie in the penalties giving Phoenix the opportunity to put the game away with its next penalty. Rufat Dadashov placed his shot into the bottom left and joined his teammates as they celebrated the playoff win.
A hard-fought match preceded these penalty kicks. The matchup between these two teams was very close in terms of scoring chances, as Phoenix took 31 shots to Reno’s 26, and Reno put 10 of those shots on target to Phoenix’s eight.
The first goal of the game was scored in the sixth minute by Corey Hertzog, who had an easy tap-in goal after a passing mistake by Lubin in his own penalty area to put Reno up 1-0.
Hometown hero Kevin Partida put Reno ahead by two in the match in the 40th minute. Christian François put a cross into the box that was deflected into the air, which was beautifully brought down by Partida and put into the bottom right corner.
Phoenix got its first goal back in stoppage time of the first half from Kevon Lambert, who had an easy tap in of his own after a deflection on a shot by teammate Santi Moar rolled into a perfect spot for him to get an easy goal.
The match was evened to 2-2 in the 72nd minute by Solomon Asante, who slotted the ball into the bottom right corner off of a touch through ball from Sam Stanton.
The extra thirty minutes yielded no goals, leading to the fateful penalty contest that decided the outcome of postseason contest.
The loss marks the end of the season for Reno. The team had a successful regular season, going 11-2-3 and made a solid playoff run, before being knocked out in the Conference Semifinals.
“(We) got to start preparing for next season and hopefully get in the playoffs again and make a run at it,” head coach Ian Russell said about the result.
Phoenix moves on to the USL Western Conference Finals and will play El Paso Locomotive FC Oct. 24.