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Illinois Piasa Hang on for Big 4-3 Win over Harrisburg Heat

February 9, 2014 - Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) - Illinois Piasa News Release

PONTOON BEACH, IL. February 8, 2014 - The Illinois Piasa rode a three-goal third quarter and then closed down on defense late to defeat the visiting Harrisburg Heat 4-3 on Saturday night at The Field Sports Complex. Zac Kittrell scored two goals and Alan Hagerty made 30 saves as the Piasa snapped a twelve-game losing streak and picked up their second win of the season.

The Heat got on the board quickly, with midfielder Tyler Witmer finding the back of the net just 53 seconds into the match. Fellow midfielder Kaoru Forbess found Witmer with space and he was able to bury the ball past Piasa goalkeeper Alan Hagerty to make it 1-0 Heat.

After the goal, the Piasa offense controlled the possession for the remainder of the quarter and had a number of great scoring opportunities, the best of which was a clearance off the Heat line. However, the period ended 1-0 Harrisburg.

The Piasa were not to be denied early in the second. Just 2:06 into the quarter, Illinois midfielder Mirza Kovacevic found forward Zac Kittrell in the Heat box, who one-timed it past Heat "˜keeper Timothy Mehl to knot it up at 1-1.

And the Piasa went on the power play at the 8:03 mark for a sixth Heat foul as they looked to take their first lead of the match. Illinois held possession during the two-minute stretch, but were unable to convert.

But the Piasa finally took the lead early in the second half. Forward Nilber Nativo found space and buried the ball into the left corner of the net past Mehl to make it 2-1 Piasa at the 3:25 mark.

Only moments later, the Piasa would go on the penalty kill for accumulating their sixth foul of the match. But the Illinois defense stepped up to deny any Harrisburg chances as they kept the one-goal advantage.

And with 7:39 to go in the third, defender Ernad Cavka sprung midfielder Almin Sabotic free and he was able to slot the ball low and home past Mehl to make it 3-1 to the home team.

And on the counter, the Piasa extended their lead again. Hagerty provided the excellent distribution to Kittrell, who took it himself for his second goal of the match. The goal with 6:06 to go in the third gave the Piasa some much-needed breathing room at 4-1.

The Heat went on the power play early in the fourth quarter when Piasa midfielder Jarid Faulkerson picked up a blue card during an aggressive challenge in the Harrisburg box just 12 seconds into the period. And just 14 seconds later, Forbess found Witmer again with a powerful low shot into the right corner of the net to cut the Piasa lead to 4-2 with 14:32 to go in the game.

And the Heat picked up another power play and subsequent goal with less than seven minutes to go. The Piasa reached the sixth team foul limit at the 8:05 mark, and for the third time, it was Forbess finding Witmer for the hat trick with 6:52 to go in the game to make it only 4-3 Piasa.

The Heat came dangerously close to tying it up with less than three minutes to go, but Hagerty was able to corral the ball just before it would have crossed the line. An overly aggressive Witmer was then awarded a blue card for a reckless slide tackle trying to pry the ball loose with 2:43 to go.

The Piasa looked to put the game away on the ensuing power play, but could not find the dagger as the Heat turned to full strength and called a timeout with 45 seconds to go. Harrisburg pulled their goalie as they looked for the equalizer, and despite a free kick with 0.3 seconds to go, Hagerty made his final save of the night to preserve the victory.

The Piasa close out the season at home next Saturday, February 15 when the Wichita B-52s return to town. The B-52s picked up an 8-7 road victory against the Piasa on November 30 and won their two home games as well, so the Piasa will be eager to play spoiler. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:35 PM CST at The Field Sports Complex in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. The game will be a doubleheader, as the Piasa's PASL-Premier team will play the B-52's Premier team at the conclusion of the first game. Tickets for the doubleheader are only $5!

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