The Hounds punch their ticket to the 2018 USL Playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds entered the final leg of the Keystone Cup Thursday Night with a lot at stake. A win would secure the Keystone Cup, reclaim the Old Guard Shield, but most importantly secure a playoff spot. This seemed simple enough, however nothing worth while is easy to obtain. After waiting out a 90 minute weather delay and playing on a horrendous field, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds came away with a 2-0 win and some trophies to add to their cabinet and stellar 2018 resume.
The first half started out rough as both teams began to feel out, not only each other, but also how the soaked and muddy field would affect their play. Penn FC played a strong possession game and had a quality through ball that Riverhounds goalkeeper Mike Kirk covered it. That was followed by a free kick in a dangerous area for Penn, but to no avail. In the 19th minute the Riverhounds had their first threat, but Christiano Francois was just behind a deep ball that Penn FC’s keeper covered with little issue. Two minutes later, Kenardo Forbes presented a great through ball, but Kay Banjo turned the opposite direction, and the ball was cleared. On the next possession, Ben Fitzpatrick made a great run and sent a cross in to the far post where Francois’ volley was too hard, causing the shot to go over the net.
For the next 15 minutes Penn FC kept possession but weren’t able to create any real threats. Then in the 38th minute, a bad deflection led to Kay Banjo finding the ball at his feet and placing it into the back of the net, putting the Riverhounds up 1-0. Kenardo Forbes attempted to extend the lead in the 41st minute, but his shot from 25 yards out went just wide. In the 44th minute, a Penn FC shot was blocked straight up in the air, Mike Kirk attempted to catch the ball as it came down, the ball turned slipped, but he was able to hold onto enough of the ball. The half ended with the Riverhounds up 0-1, but both teams knowing the game was up for grabs.
As the second half started, the Riverhounds came out on the attack. After a Penn FC defender misplayed the ball, Ben Fitzpatrick took a shot on net that was blocked. In the 50th minute, Francois sent a great cross to the far post, but thanks to the field conditions, Ben Fitzpatrick ended up sliding in the net instead of the ball. Three minutes later, Penn FC sent a shot in that bounced off Kirk, but the follow up shot was offside. In the 75th minute, Penn FC sent a cross in that went through the hands of Kirk, thankfully Thomas Vancaeyezeele was there to just clear the ball away from the net. Pittsburgh was awarded a corner in the 86th minute. The cross was destined for Hugh Roberts, who unfortunately slipped and fell, voiding the chance. In the 93 minute, Andrew Lubahn made a nice tackle and beat Penn FC’s keeper to score his first goal of the season and secure the Keystone Cup, Old Guard Shield, and a spot in the playoffs with a 0-2 victory.
Andrew Lubahn’s goal was his first of the season.
The Riverhounds clinched their first playoff appearance since 2015.
Mike Kirk earned his second career clean sheet in his 6th career appearance
Next Time Out:
Riverhounds travel to Charlotte on Saturday, September 29, as they take on the Independence at 7 pm.
Penn FC will host Charlotte on Wednesday, October 3, at 6:30 pm.