He was just becoming acquainted with a steel metropolis at the center of three rivers.
In the heat of 2012, Dan Lynd began summer camp for the men’s soccer program at the University of Pittsburgh. Heading into his freshman season, the Penfield, New York native was in the midst of shaking off nerves as he met another goalkeeper who would become a prominent figure in his career.
“I remember [Hunter Gilstrap] being really calm and patient with me,” Lynd said. “I was trying to do a lot of stuff, and he was like ‘relax, relax, you’re fine.’ I feel like I’ve come a long way since then.”
From setting the program record in goalkeeper minutes (4,681) at Pittsburgh to playing professionally with the Rochester Rhinos from 2016-17, Lynd’s long-winding journey has now intersected with Gilstrap’s. Recording his 10th shutout of the season against the Richmond Kickers on Wednesday, he broke a tie he held with Gilstrap and Randy Dedini for the most single-season clean sheets in club history.
With the accolade under his belt, Lynd will look to do more of the same, as the Hounds (10-3-7) battle Toronto FC II (1-15-3) at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
“It feels nice,” Lynd said about setting the record. “We still have 14 games left, so there’s a long way to go. The team has played really well in front of me and made my job easy at times, and I’ve been able to come up with a few big plays when I’ve needed to. Hopefully that continues.”
When Lynd arrived at Riverhounds SC camp this past February, he was the only goalkeeper on the squad with prior playing experience at the USL level. Fellow keepers Kyle Morton and Mike Kirk had been rostered by league teams, but neither had appeared in a game like Lynd had.
Although he logged time in the goalmouth, it wasn’t a large sample size. Playing behind two-time USL Golden Glove winner Tomas Gomez for the Rhinos, Lynd posted a 1.27 goals-against average (GAA) in 11 appearances across two seasons with the club.
Gilstrap said despite his limited playing time heading into the start of the 2018 campaign, Lynd was helped by his familiarity with head coach Bob Lilley, who he also competed for during his stint with the Rhinos, as well as his ability to stay calm between the goalposts.
Lynd has exceled since being thrust into the starting role for the Hounds after waiting in the wings during his first two professional seasons. He did not allow a goal over the course of his first three starts with the Black and Gold, and now ranks among the leaders in the 2018 USL Golden Glove race with a 0.59 GAA.
“The message he’s receiving from us is ‘yes good job, but we’re not there yet,’” Gilstrap said. “There’s an expectation from him, on himself, to continue to get better every day.”
As the coaching staff preaches improvement during weekly training sessions, the Hounds will look to capitalize on their home turf against Toronto FC II this weekend. In nine all-time meetings, Pittsburgh has never lost to Toronto and holds a 7-0-2 record against the Eastern Conference foe.
Adding another win to this all-time mark will be of great help to the Hounds in the standings, as they currently sit in third place and seven points behind conference-leading FC Cincinnati.
“Our big objective as a group is to consistently perform at a high level,” Gilstrap said. “Put a string of games together where the results line up with the good performance. I think that’s the goal through the end of the season.”