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Post-match reaction: Seven on a night that felt like heaven for Hounds and fans

What a night.

What a performance.

Pittsburgh Soccer Now‘s and Riverhounds SC’s play-by-play broadcaster Matt Gajtka exclaimed after the match ended in a resounding 7-0 USL Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff win for the Hounds in beating Birmingham Legion FC — ‘Seven on a night that felt like heaven!’

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 7, Birmingham Legion FC 0

It didn’t matter that Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC had never won a playoff match in the Highmark Stadium era — or since 2004.

It didn’t matter that it was raining all day — and all night long.

It didn’t matter that Birmingham came into the USL Eastern Conference quarterfinal as a team with nothing to lose and already hardened by winning a playoff game on the road.

The Riverounds were ready. More than 5,600 Pittsburgh soccer fans were ready.

“Playoff games are not like regular games,” Neco Brett, Hounds forward, and goal scoring star on Saturday, said. “There’s a lot more energy.”

In the locker room after warm-ups, Neco Brett sensed his teammates were going to come busting out of the gates like a team possessed, and one that was prepared to exorcise its club’s past postseason demons.

“When I got in the locker room, I realized that everyone was locked in. Whenever I get in the locker room and the guys are like that, normally we bring our A game,” Brett said. “I was looking forward to a game like this. Not this many goals, but a good game.”

The Hounds came out early — and were on the front foot from the very beginning looking to attack. They were laser sharp in knocking the ball around with efficiency.

“It was just our game plan. We knew their back line wasn’t that steady. All we had to do was put on some pressure and that’s exactly what we did,” Brett said.

With the energy of the crowd behind them, the goal scoring barrage began in the 13th minute as Brett finished off a wild sequence with his first goal of the night.

“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. 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,” Brett added.

One goal wasn’t enough.

The Hounds kept coming, and coming.

“We did a really good job of keeping the hammer down. At 2-0 or 3-0 that game is not done. We played a really, really strong first half where we’re up 5-0 at half time, and then we kind of know ‘Ok, as long as we don’t do anything stupid and we show up the first 15 minutes of the second, we should be able to run this thing out.'”

“Right now I think it’s just kind of elation that we were able to come out and put together a performance like that. 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 has asked of us,” Robbie Mertz said. “It’s really special, but we have to re-group tomorrow, enjoy the victory but move on to the next one.”


“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. 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.”


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The win extends the Hounds current unbeaten streak to 12 games. They remain unbeaten at home this season, now 13-0-7 overall if you count in Open Cup matches.

With home field advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs, they’re hoping this is just the beginning.

Next week, the Hounds will face the two-time defending USL Cup winners, Louisville City FC at Highmark Stadium.

‘This year, the big games, we’ve handled pretty well,” Hounds Head Coach Bob Lilley said. “Mentally we’re prepared. We’re continuing to grow. Who ever’s left after tonight. There’s a lot of good teams. There’s a lot work in front of us. You want to get excited, but your just 25 percent there.”

With much work still to be done, the Hounds reveled in the big win, but will be going about its business next week in preparation for Louisville.

“I think we’re enjoying ourselves on the field, and when you’re enjoying your performances it makes a big difference. 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,” Mertz added.

“We know the crowd enjoyed it,” Lilley added. “We have a sneaky suspicion that they’ll come out to support us next week. We’ll see how far we can take it.”






Matt Gajtka was concerned he was going to lose his voice last night — but he certainly brought the excitement in last night’s broadcast – calling a club record seven goal performance.


John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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