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Hounds defeat Swope Park, 3-2

By Riverhounds Staff, 08/10/19, 9:15PM EDT

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PITTSBURGH (August 10, 2019) - Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (10-3-8) defeated the Swope Park Rangers (3-12-6), 3-2, Saturday night at Highmark Stadium. With the win, the Hounds improved their record at home to 7-0-5 on the year.

Christian Volesky, Neco Brett and Anthony Velarde were responsible for the scoring in the win. Austin Pack manned the cage for the Black and Gold, finishing the night with two saves.

First Half

The match began with an excellent opportunity from Swope Park’s Felipe Hernandez inside the 18-yard box. Hernandez’s shot missed just wide of the net, squandering a potential scoring chance for the Rangers in the 6th minute.

The Riverhounds responded to Swope Park’s early chance with a couple of their own. Volesky hit the goalpost from inside the six-yard box in the 7th minute of play, setting up a corner kick for the Hounds. The responding corner from  Robbie Mertz allowed Volesky to redeem himself, heading the ball past the Swope Park keeper and giving the Hounds a 1-0 lead.

The Rangers responded to the early deficit after a fortunate call in the Swope Park attacking zone. Pittsburgh’s Mouhamed Dabo committed a foul within the 18-yard box, setting up a penalty kick for Swope Park in the 33rd minute of play. Rangers’ midfielder Gedion Zelalem sniped one past Pack to make the scoring at one a piece.

After the goal from the Zelalem, Swope Park controlled the remainder of the scoring opportunities in the second half. Pittsburgh and Swope Park went to the locker rooms tied at 1-1 at the end of the half.

The Hounds had the advantage in the shot department with six compared to Swope Park’s five, however the Rangers ended the first half having a possession advantage of 57 percent compared to the Riverhounds' 43 percent.

Second Half

The Black and Gold wasted no time to get back on the board after coming out of the break. Neco Brett netted a ball from Jordan Dover in the 47th minute to give his club a 2-1 advantage.

Velarde made his mark on the scoresheet just four minutes later. The midfielder fielded a pass from Mertz before dancing around several defenders, and fired a shot into the back of the net. 

Swope Park trimmed its deficit to just one in the 67th minute. Striker Zé Pedro launched a shot from just outside the penalty area, beating Hounds’ keeper Pack on the play to set the score at 3-2.

Ryan James nearly struck gold in the 72nd minute, but placed a long shot attempt just over the top-right corner of the net.

Pittsburgh held off Swope Park for the remaining minutes of the match and walked out of the night with a 3-2 victory.

Hound of the Match

Robbie Mertz stuffed the stat sheet, finishing the night with two assists, two shots on target and a team-high four key passes. 

Stat of the Game: 7

Another three-goal performance marked the seventh time this season that the Black and Gold have potted three or more goals in a match. The Hounds are undefeated in those seven games. 

What’s Next:

The Riverhounds travel east to New Jersey for a midweek showdown with New York Red Bulls II (14-4-5) on Wednesday, Aug. 14th. The match will begin at 7 p.m. at MSU Soccer Park. The game can be streamed live on ESPN+.


Lineups:

Riverhounds SC - Austin Pack - Ryan James, Tobi Adewole, Joe Greenspan (Thomas Vancaeyezeele 63'), Jordan Dover - Mouhamed Dabo, Sammy Kahsai (Kenardo Forbes 82') - Robbie Mertz, Anthony Velarde (Noah Franke 63') - Neco Brett, Christian Volesky

Subs not used: Kyle Morton, Steevan Dos Santos, Kevin Kerr, Dani Rovira

Swope Park Rangers - John Pulskamp - Alexsander Andrade, Camden Riley, Kaveh Rad, Jaylin Lindsey (Rennico Clarke 62') - Gedion Zelalem, Wan Kuzain, Felipe Hernandez - Tyler Freeman (Ayyoub Allach 63'), Ethan Vanacore-Decker (Wilson Harris 82'), Zé Pedro

Subs not used: Max Trejo, Rassambek Akhmatov, Killian Colombie, Jerome Ngom Mbekeli

Scoring Summary:

PIT - Christian Volesky 7' (Robbie Mertz)

SPR - Gedion Zelalem 33' (penalty)

PIT - Neco Brett 47' (Jordan Dover)

PIT - Anthony Velarde 51' (Robbie Mertz)

SPR - Zé Pedro 67' (Felipe Hernandez)

Misconduct Summary:

SPR - Camden Riley 19' (caution)

PIT - Anthony Velarde 37' (caution)

PIT - Robbie Mertz 45' (caution)

PIT - Ryan James 56' (caution)

PIT - Jordan Dover 78' (caution)


Quotes

Head coach Bob Lilley

On attempting to get more from the offensive possession...

“First off, I thought their kids played a good game. They looked sharp on the ball and they were active, so they played well. I think we should have held onto the ball better. The first half was just kick long balls. There was very little possession at the break lines. We were slow on it. We got balls pinched on us with extra dribbles and extra passes. And some guys who don’t lose it usually but lost it more than we should have.”

On being satisfied with the offensive performance the last two matches…

“We got a good goal in the first half on a set piece. We really didn’t break them down in the first half. We may have once or twice in the first half but didn’t convert. Second half, the goals were nice and we were able to drive lines and break through them. That is what we have been preaching. It is tough to talk about the first half in terms of our actual play.”

On conceding a goal in the 75th minute of play…

“It is bad defending and they played through us. That should not happen through any point in the game, let alone when you are protecting a lead and at home.”

Midfielder Anthony Velarde

On his goal...

"I put myself in a good position. Robbie [Mertz] is talented enough to find me in that spot where the coaches have been wanting me to be at. I took a good touch, just ran at them and sometimes things just go your way. That's my ability. I'm able to just go at people, take small touches, get away from people and finish the ball when I can."

On the team's improvements in the second half...

"In the first half we were struggling as a team. In the second half we came out firing and I think that obviously when the team is doing well, your confidence goes up. I think that was a big part of my confidence going up in the second half."

On the chemistry between him and Robbie Mertz...

"We balance each other well. I think we both can create, we both can work defensively. We're young, we're hungry, we're able to do what the coach asks. I think that's being part of a team. There's no one player that's going to be able to do everything. I think it takes all of us. That's the main thing that we have to do from now on. Everybody has to step up in every single aspect of the game."

Forward Christian Volesky

On his chances in the offensive end...

"Tonight, I had a couple more chances. If I get another game, we'll see. Maybe those chances will start going into the back of the net. It's been good. I heard Anthony [Velarde] say 'There's no I in team', and there's a good amount of people scoring a lot of goals. We're scoring a lot of different goals from a lot of different places, so that's a good deal."

On the pace of play...

"The game was definitely choppy. We didn't do a good job of dictating the game. They're a younger group, but they like to possess the ball and we kind of sat back and didn't dictate the game like we normally do. It was tough and we made the game more difficult than it needed to be."

On the club's two matches in the coming week...

"It's going to be a good test. We've got the Red Bulls and North Carolina. Those are two good teams and we're away from home. It's going to be a great test. At this point in the season it's crucial. We're going to see where we're at, what we're made of, and like I said, we had some key players resting tonight. We have a lot of fire power ready for the Red Bulls and North Carolina."

On the club's potential success as the year winds down...

"We're definitely in the mix for an Eastern Conference championship. We're playing well right now. The key is to be playing our best soccer in the last couple games of the season and heading into the playoffs. We have a lot of experience, we have a young group that are fighters. Everybody's driving the team in the right direction."