On a night when so much history was made, it can be easy to overlook just how significant Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC's 7-0 win over Birmingham Legion FC was this past Saturday.
The victory marked the first playoff win for the Riverhounds since the 2004 campaign, ending a drought of 15 years between postseason successes for the Black and Gold. It was also the first playoff win for the Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium, which was constructed in 2013.
A record crowd of 5,627 was on hand to watch Pittsburgh tie a club record for most goals scored in a match, an output that also shattered the previous club record for most goals scored in a postseason match.
It was only one game, but Saturday’s victory provided a catharsis for both the club and its supporters, giving everyone in attendance at Highmark Stadium a night of memories they will not soon forget.
"I think we're enjoying ourselves on the field, and when you're enjoying your performances it makes a big difference,” midfielder Robbie Mertz said. “Obviously like tonight when you're getting a lot of goals and a shutout, you're enjoying it at both sides of the ball. Just keep working hard, keep going about our business, and trying to do our jobs early in the game so that we can enjoy wins like tonight.”
On an evening when the team seemed to exercise postseason demons, the club also enjoyed a number of record-breaking individual performances as well.
Neco Brett wrote his name into the record books with a jaw-dropping performance, netting four goals to pass David Flavius for the most career postseason goals in Hounds history. His fourth tally tied a club record for most goals in a single game by a Hounds player.
On pretty much any other game day, this performance would be the story of the match. But in a game when everything seemed to go right for the Hounds, it seemed almost like a footnote to one of the greatest performances in club history.
"For the entire week, we have been training really well and making sure we were locked in because we know that playoff games are not like regular season games,” Brett said postgame. “There's more energy, everyone has to focus and make sure we're locked in. That's exactly what we did, and we showed our A game today."
Make no mistake, nobody in the club is satisfied yet. In less than a week, the Hounds will be tested again, hosting a Louisville City FC squad that played them to a 0-0 draw the last time it visited Highmark Stadium.
But for one night, everything went right for the Riverhounds. And it feels like just the beginning.
"Right now, I think it's just kind of elation that we were able to come out and put together a performance like that," Mertz said. "I think everyone can agree, it's probably our best of the season, and to be doing it at this time of year is what you want and what Bob Lilley has asked of us. It's really special, but we have to regroup tomorrow. Enjoy the victory, but move on to the next one."