Bethlehem Steel FC Earns First Postseason Win
PITTSBURGH - Despite trailing twice on the road with six teenagers in the starting lineup, Bethlehem Steel FC battled until the end to win the organization's first postseason match, advancing on penalty kicks 8-7.
Bethlehem Steel FC forced extra time on Michee Ngalina's second-half strike, erasing the Riverhounds' goal by Ben Zemanski. With 90 minutes not enough, Hugh Roberts lifted the homeside ahead just before the intermission whistle but a free kick goal by James Chambers sent the match to the decisive penalties where all eight penalty kick takers scored.
"We just didn't go away, the guys fought back and clawed their way back into the game twice," Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said after the historic win. "Had a couple shaky moments as you always do in these type of games but the reality is that we're one of the youngest teams to ever do this and I couldn't be more proud of the growth of our young players. Then our captain stepped up and brought us home, he buries that free kick, buries that penalty. He led us, he controlled the middle of the field throughout. I'm at a loss for words right now, it's a really special day for us."
With the scoreboard tied at 2-2, Bethlehem showed composure in its penalty takes shooting into the Riverhounds supporters' section. Team captain Chambers was the first to step to the mark, firing a right-footed shot into the top left corner. Chris Nanco made it two for two from the spot and was followed by Omar Holness, Santi Moar and Drew Skundrich. The two sides continued to trade penalty kicks into the eighth round that saw Oliver Mbaizo convert while Pittsburgh missed the mark.
Starting six players under the age of 19, the youngsters showcased patience and defense in the first half against the hometown Riverhounds. Wanting to break the nerves, Santi Moar fired the night's opening shot on target in the second minute but was turned away by the keeper. Congesting the midfield to slow down the Pittsburgh attack, Steel FC wasn't test in the run of play until the 18th minute but 18-year-old Ben Ofeimu got a timely block to end the chance. Five minutes later Ofeimu was called upon again after a Steel FC turnover and answered with yet another stop.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring in the 25th minute on Zemanski's header. After an initial defensive stop in the box, forward Neco Brett collected the clearance and took two touches. With four defenders racing toward Brett, he laced a cross into the box that Zemanski finished off. Zemanski nearly tallied an opening-half brace but goalkeeper Jake McGuire kept it at 1-0 with a diving stop to his right. Steel FC nearly equalized late in the half as Michee Ngalina got the edge on his defender but a timely block denied an open-net chance for Moar.
Bethlehem Steel FC looks to continue its momentum in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, traveling to No. 2 seed Louisville City FC. A rematch of the last season's playoff battle, Steel FC will face off against Louisville on Saturday, October 27. Kick off from Slugger Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 2 (8), Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2 (7)
Shots: 20-10 (Pittsburgh)
Shots on goal: 6-5 (Pittsburgh)
Corners: 13-4 (Pittsburgh)
Saves: 4-3 (Bethlehem)
GAME SCORING SUMMARY
PGH - 25' Ben Zemanski (Nico Brett)
BST - 70' Michee Ngalina (Santi Moar, Chris Nanco)
PGH - 105' Hugh Roberts
BST- 109' James Chambers
PENALTY KICK SUMMARY
Round One: BST- James Chambers (good), PGH- Kevin Kerr (good)
Round Two: BST- Chris Nanco (good), PGH- Kenardo Forbes (good)
Round Three: BST- Omar Holness (good), PGH- Kay Banjo (good)
Round Four: BST- Santi Moar (good), PGH- Joseph Greenspan (good)
Round Five: BST- Drew Skundrich (good), PGH- Christiano Francois (good)
Round Six: BST- Matt Mahoney (good), PGH- Thomas Vancaeyezeele (good)
Round Seven: BST- Matt Real (good), PGH- Mouhamed Dabo (good)
Round Eight: BST- Olivier Mbaizo (good), PGH- Ray Lee (miss)
BST - 45' Faris (Yellow Card)
PGH - 86 Jordan Dover (Yellow Card)
PGH - 109 Jordan Dover (Yellow Card)
BST - 111' Chris Nanco (Yellow Card)
PGH - 113' Kenardo Forbes (Yellow Card)
PGH - 119' Joe Holland (Red Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Matt Real, Ben Ofeimu, Matt Mahoney, Olivier Mbaizo; James Chambers, Anthony Fontana (Drew Skundrich 62'); Santi Moar, Brenden Aaronson (Omar Holness 100'), Michee Ngalina; Faris (Chris Nanco 55').
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, AJ Paterson, Brandon Aubrey, Aidan Apodaca.
PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS STARTING XI
Dan Lynd; Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Joe Greenspan, Hugh Roberts, Jordan Dover (Kevin Kerr 118'); Mouhamed Dabo, Kenardo Forbes, Ben Zemanski (Ray Lee 115'), Romeo Parkes (Joe Holland 96'), Christiano Francois, Neco Brett (Kay Banjo 115').
Substitutes not used: Mike Kirk, Todd Pratzner, Tobi Adewole.
Officials: Michael Radchuk (Referee), Benjamin Hall-Volpenhein (Assistant Referee), Ryan Graves (Assistant Referee), Eric Tattersall (Fourth Official).
LVHN TEAM NOTES
- Tonight's match was Bethlehem Steel FC's first extra time match, first match decided by penalty kicks and postseason in the club's modern history.
- Michee Ngalina's first half tying goal was Steel FC's first postseason strike in the club's history.
- The goal gives Ngalina a team-high seven goals in 2018.
- Chris Nanco and Santi Moar contributed assists on Ngalina's goal. The assist were Nanco's fifth and Moar's ninth of the season.
- Chambers' free kick goal was his fifth of the season and his 13th of his USL career, the second-most in club history.
Images from this story
Bethlehem Steel FC celebrates playoff win
Michee Ngalina of Bethlehem Steel FC vs. the Pittsburgh Riverhounds
James Chambers of Bethlehem Steel FC vs. the Pittsburgh Riverhounds
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