Hounds Close out Regular Season with Win against Philadelphia
PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (11-4-1) defeated Philadelphia Union II (2-11-3), 2-1, tonight at Highmark Stadium.
Ray Lee got the Hounds on the board first in the 15th minute. Then, in the 61st minute, Jack McGlynn converted a penalty kick for Philadelphia to tie the game. A late goal from Albert Dikwa in the 90'+2 put the Hounds ahead for good.
The win puts the Hounds in first place in Group F, two points ahead of Hartford Athletic. Hartford has one more match, coming against New York Red Bulls II on Sunday. A Hartford tie or loss would clinch the group for the Hounds.
The Hounds created several quality opportunities early. In the 7th minute, Ropapa Mensah sent a shot from the right side of the penalty area toward the bottom-right corner. Philadelphia goalkeeper Ben Martino ranged to his right to keep the Hounds off the board. Then, in the 10th minute, Mensah sent another shot from the right side of the penalty box, which was again denied by Martino.
The Hounds were on the attack once again in the 15th minute, as Robbie Mertz sent a cross to Patrick Bunk-Andersen in the center of the penalty area. Andersen directed a header toward the top-right corner, which was deflected away by Martino. The Hounds broke through just moments later, after Mertz back-heeled a pass to Lee on the left side of the penalty area. He then launched a shot into the bottom-left corner, giving the Hounds a 1-0 lead.
The Hounds played tight defense in the first half, allowing just two shots. Philadelphia's best opportunity came in the 18th minute, when a shot from Paxton Aaronson in the center of the penalty area missed wide to the right.
The Hounds outshot Philadelphia, 7-2, in the first half and recorded five shots on target.
The Hounds continued to attack Philadelphia in the second half. In the 55th minute, Ryan James sent a cross to Kenardo Forbes outside of the penalty area. Forbes then launched a rocket, which narrowly missed high.
In the 61st minute, a penalty kick was awarded to Philadelphia after Skylar Thomas was shown a yellow card for a foul in the penalty area. McGlynn sent the ensuing penalty kick into the bottom-right corner, tying the game at 1-1.
The Hounds nearly regained the lead in the 64th minute, after James sent a cross to Mensah in the center of the penalty area. Mensah then headed the ball just high of the net.
In the 90'+2, the Hounds were on the attack, looking for the go-ahead goal. Forbes sent a corner kick to Dikwa in the center of the penalty area, and the striker sent a powerful header into the bottom-left corner, giving the Hounds a one-goal lead that they would not surrender.
Hound of the Match, presented by EPIC
In 21 minutes of action, Albert Dikwa tallied four shots, including the go-ahead goal in the 90'+2.
Beyond the Box Score, presented by Beyond Self Storage
Riverhounds SC outscored Union II, 12-1, in three meetings this season.
If the current standings hold, Riverhounds SC will host a first-round playoff match against Saint Louis FC (7-5-4). If Hartford wins tomorrow and the Hounds fall to second place, they will travel to Lynn Family Stadium for a matchup against Louisville City FC (11-3-2). Times and dates are to be determined.
Riverhounds SC - Danny Vitiello; Ray Lee (Anthony Velarde 69'), Patrick Bunk-Andersen, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Skylar Thomas, Ryan James; Kenardo Forbes, Robbie Mertz (Mark Lindstrom 90'+5), Danny Griffin; Ropapa Mensah (Albert Dikwa 69'), Steevan Dos Santos
Subs not used: Tomas Gomez, Mark Forrest, Dani Rovira, Tony Walls
Philadelphia Union II - Ben Martino; Anthony Sorenson, Brandan Craig, Dante Huckaby, Nathan Harriel; Jack McGlynn, Cole Turner, Jack De Vries (Zachary Zandi 56'), Paxten Aaronson (Danny Flores 79'); Caden Stafford (Axel Picazo 88'), Anges Kader Bohui (Quinn Sullivan 88')
Subs not used: Mitch Budler, Benjamin Ofeimu, Issa Rayyan
PIT - Ray Lee 15' (Robbie Mertz)
PHI - Jack McGlynn 63' (penalty)
PIT - Albert Dikwa 90'+2 (Kenardo Forbes)
PIT - Ray Lee 37' (caution)
PHI - Cole Turner 43' (caution)
PIT - Skylar Thomas 61' (caution)
PIT - Steevan Dos Santos 70' (caution)
PHI - Jack McGlynn 90'+1 (caution)
Head coach Bob Lilley
On the win...
"Certainly, we're going to have situations like this late in games in the playoffs. So I think it was good to get the three points tonight because we will likely see situations like this later. We'll certainly review the film this week to see what we can do better, but it was great to get the win."
On Thomas Vancaeyezeele...
"He's definitely grown a lot in the last three years here. Tonight, we put him in a lot of different positions, as we tried to create some pressure late in the second half. He's a key part as to why we are one of the better defensive teams in this league."
On the playoffs...
"For me, our job is to get ready. Maximizing our points tonight was key, and we can only control how we perform. I would love to play as many games as possible at Highmark [Stadium], but if we have to play on the road, we'll be ready."
Forward Albert Dikwa
On the go-ahead goal...
"In my head, I was thinking that I had to make right on this chance. I missed on a few opportunities earlier in the half, and that goal was probably the best chance I had. I knew I had to make it, and I did."
On the team's chemistry heading into the postseason...
"I think of the team in connections, and how lucky I am to have Kenardo [Forbes] to push me to be my best. I know he trusted me on that last shot, even though I had missed on a few earlier."
On the win...
"I feel good about this win. We knew after last week that we didn't want this one to slip away and we didn't. We were determined to end the season on a positive note and gain some momentum as we head into the playoffs."
Midfielder Kenardo Forbes
On his first start back from injury...
"I felt a little rusty. There were a few passes I missed, but the pass to Albert [Dikwa] felt good. It was definitely good to get back out there, though, and I can't wait for the playoffs."
On the win...
"We needed this win, going into the playoffs. Going into the playoffs on a win brings a little momentum with it, and after we lost last week, it felt good to win here."
On the playoffs...
"Tonight was a really good test for the postseason, because any team can come out and give you a tough go for 90 minutes. There aren't really a lot of blowouts in the playoffs, so I'm happy that we came out on top today."
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