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Tournament series off to successful start with Riverhounds Classic

By Riverhounds Staff, 08/25/21, 5:45PM EDT

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Last weekend's tournament, the first hosted by the Hounds, featured 81 teams from four states

With 81 teams and more than 1,200 total athletes from four states competing at four different venues, the first Riverhounds Classic was no small undertaking.

But through the effort of countless coaches, managers, volunteers, referees and others, the Classic — and with it, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Tournament Series — got off to a successful start on Aug. 21 and 22.

Matches across the two days were played at Highmark Stadium, Montour Junction, No Offseason Sports and the Peterswood Soccer Complex. In all, 17 champions were crowned in boys and girls age groups from U10 to U15, and all matches in every divisions were able to be played in full.

The first Hounds tournament was a huge success, according to Tournament Director Justin Evans, but that doesn’t mean everything went strictly according to plan.

“Leading up to it, there was a lot of stuff and some unknowns we didn’t know about, but we had some help, and as as a team we got through it. I got nothing but positive feedback from the teams that came from all over the region, and we were blessed with really good weather,” said Evans, the former Hounds and MLS pro and current Hounds Academy coach.

Congratulations are certainly in order for the victorious teams (see below), while the Hounds’ staff now turns its attention to organizing its second event, the Three Rivers College Showcase, which is scheduled to be played over two weekends in December.

While a slightly different style of event — the showcase is focused on opportunities for teams with high-school-aged players who aspire to play at the college or professional levels — the Riverhounds Classic provided a good blueprint for future events.

“I think the thing we learned is that we have the infrastructure and the people, the volunteers — and we can’t thank the volunteers enough — but we have the infrastructure and people to do this,” Evans said. “As far as what we can do to make it better, I think we can probably put it out a little earlier, do a little more communication a little earlier, but it was our first go, and we were trying to get things in order. It was good, overall.”

A big part of future tournament success will be the AHN Montour Health & Sports Medicine Center, which will be the final product of the ongoing development at Montour Junction.

With a total of 10 fields, it will be the largest such complex in Western Pennsylvania that has artificial turf, meaning it will be lest susceptible to the erratic weather in the region. That will allow it to be a central hub for tournament action, akin to the large complexes that host nationally renowned events like the Dallas Cup in Texas or the Jefferson Cup in Richmond, Va.

“That’s what you want. When you go to these tournaments like the Jefferson Cup or regionals, the bigger tournaments where there are massive complexes, you get the feel of the cheering going on at one field, the yelling at the refs at another,” Evans said. “There’s that excitement and that energy that brings a tournament alive, and when they complete Montour Junction, it’s going to completely change the landscape of what we’re able to do.”

For the next couple of weeks, the Hounds Academy staff can turn its attention to their own teams as the 2021-22 competitive season begins in earnest Labor Day weekend. But the hope is that, soon, the RDA and the Tournament Series will help Western Pa. become a regional hub for some of the biggest events in youth soccer.

 

2021 Riverhounds Classic Champions

Boys
U14/15 Championship — Columbus United SC
U14 Championship — Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2008 RDA II
U13 Championship — Allegheny Force FC
U12 Championship — SCS United
U12 Elite — Pacesetter SC Pre-ECNL
U11 Championship — Pacesetter SC Pre-ECNL
U11 Elite — Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2011 RDA East
U10 Championship — Pacesetter SC

Girls
U14/15 Championship — Western NY Flash Academy
U14 Championship — Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2008 RDA East
U13 Championship — Bridge City SC
U13 Elite — West Allegheny Youth SA
U12 Championship — Columbus United SC
U11 Championship — Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2011 Girls
U11 Elite — Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2011 RDA East
U10 Championship — North Pittsburgh Sports
U10 Elite — Pittsburgh Hotspurs