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For the Love of the Game: Arsenal dethrones Tartan Devils on penalties to win GPSL title

Photo courtesy Ed Thompson

The end of a long season of Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League play culminated in a Premier Division ‘Cup Final’ match played between the Tartan Devils FC and La Comarca Arsenal in a torrential downpour that rarely let up at Highmark Stadium on Sunday night.

After 120 minutes were played, the match was decided on penalties, as Arsenal took the title, knocking the six-time defending GPSL champions off the mantle as Pittsburgh’s premier amateur side.

“We’ve had some great battles over the years with them. It feels good to come out on the winning side,” Arsenal’s Rami Bensasi said. “It’s a testament to their quality how they’ve been able to set and maintain the standard for the league for so long.”

It was the first time Tartan Devils FC didn’t take home the GPSL title since they entered the league in 2014.

“Arsenal has been a top team in the GPSL for a decade plus. They’ve always had a talented side, and this was their most talented yet. We have the utmost respect for their club and how they’ve built it,” Tartan Devils FC’s Andy Kalas said.  “They gave us everything we could handle in our regular season matchup as well as in the championship. They are a worthy champion, and we are looking forward to competing against them for the title next season.”

PSN’s Ed Thompson was there to brave the elements (as he’s done so many times before) to capture some of the images from the contest that pitting some of the best players in the region who are currently no longer playing collegiately or professionally, but still strap on the boots for pure love of the game.

Each side managed to score in regulation (Goals by Lucas Godinho (Arsenal 44’) and Ryan Slaby (TDFC 50’), but the hard-fought contest between two side that have seen plenty of good battles in the past few years went to extra time.

It was Arsenal’s Clint McElheny who scored the winning penalty former Robert Morris University standout Keaton Jennings who came up with two penalty saves.

“I’m proud of the group we’ve assembled here,” Bensasi added. “The right mix of youth & experience with everyone dedicated to the same goal, and trying to play a good style to get there. We ended as regular season and cup winners. Tonight we showed that we belong at the top of GPSL. Hopefully our team can raise the standard of the league even higher moving forward.”

Ed Thompson Photo Gallery 

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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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