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Pulse of Pittsburgh Soccer: Plum Strong, section play starts, women’s City Game on tap and Riverhounds aren’t backing down

Pittsburgh Soccer Now File Photo

This past weekend, the Pittsburgh Soccer Now administrative dashboard, the site’s social media platforms were filled with content and my brain was also on overload!

The High School season kicked off Friday, all six Division I college teams seasons’ are fully underway and the Riverhounds capped a three-match road swing with a contest against the league champions.

It was really great to get back out to Pine-Richland for the JRK Memorial Classic, as you can certainly catch our coverage including four separate match recaps, plus Matt Popchock broadcast both of the Friday and Saturday night caps at the Stadium, and Ed Thompson was on hand to capture the action on Saturday and Sunday.  There’s no time for rest as the breakneck pace of the high school season gets started on Monday with the schedule being dominated by girls section play starting, and the boys section matches will kick off on Tuesday.

Of all the results over the we saw from Division I college teams, the Duquesne men’s squad really had the most down and up weekend as they played in .  On Thursday night, they fell behind 3-0, and lost, 3-1, to James Madison.  Considering the number of returning players and success the Dukes have had in the past couple years under the direction of Chase Brooks, that result was a bit surprising.  But true to form, as they’ve done in recent years, the Dukes bounced back in a big way on Sunday, as Ask Ekeland’s hat trick led the way to a 5-1 rout of Virginia Tech, marking a win against a program out of the mighty ACC.

Led by Ask Ekeland’s hat trick, Duquesne trounce Virginia Tech, 5-1

Duquesne women’s team under the direction of Head Coach Al Alvine have never been one to back down from any opponents.  They’re always scheduling tough non-conference competition.  The early portion of this season is no exception.

The Dukes faced West Virginia in Morgantown on Sunday, playing the Mountaineers in a tight 1-0 loss, and will now face high-flying No. 21 Pitt in a regular season contest for the first time in a number of years (past few times they’ve only scrimmage).

It will be nice to have a formal renewal of the City Game, on Thursday at Ambrose Urbanic Field.   PSN’s Dom Campbell will be there to cover that one.

Before we take a look at the week ahead, here are a couple other items I wanted to share:

Riverhounds aren’t backing down 

It can be easy for fans, media, heck even the players and coaches to lament about the Riverhounds’ shaky second half in Hartford, when they allowed the worst team in the league to storm back for three late second half goals to equalize that match.  The Hounds fortunately found a late wonder goal from former Hartford striker JC Obregon to salvage a victory on Wednesday.

After blowing three-goal lead, JC Obregón’s strike lifts Riverhounds to wild 4-3 win at Hartford

The best possible thing for Bob Lilley was that he didn’t have time to sulk over that horrible late second half collapse because the Hounds had to turn around and play the defending league champions, San Antonio FC, on the road just three days later.

There hasn’t been a challenge this season that the Hounds have backed down from — and they didn’t against San Antonio.

This allowed Pittsburgh to refocus and put together one of their best defensive performances of the season, as they held on for a result, albeit a nil-nil draw.

In battle of conference leaders, Riverhounds, San Antonio play to scoreless draw

The Hounds came away from a tough week with four points, stay ahead of pursuing Tampa Bay and Charleston by slightly comfortable margins.  Now, having already reached 28 games played, with just six remaining (three at home and three on the road), Pittsburgh will have a bye week, not playing again until Saturday, September 9.  The Hounds mostly control their own destiny in its push to finish on the top of the Eastern Conference table and secure home field advantage for the playoff tournament which would begin at Highmark Stadium, in all likelihood, on Saturday, October 21.

If you’re a soccer fan in Pittsburgh, you’ll definitely want to see the Hounds keep what’s been a memorable season on many levels going through November.

Plum Strong 

The Plum community is still reeling from the explosion that took place in the Rustic Ridge development on the morning of August 12, as six people were killed as a result of the tragic incident.

If you played youth soccer or had kids who played youth soccer in the Pittsburgh region, chances are that you attended, played, coached or even possibly officiated in the the Plum Kickoff Soccer Tournament at one time.

It’s one of the biggest and most inclusive soccer tournaments that has been going strong for a long time.

This past weekend, was the 26th Annual event, and they had 309 different teams, drawing from all over the region, including West Virginia and Ohio.

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Abby Schnabble wrote a wonderful piece ‘Remembering Explosion Victims at the Plum Kickoff Classic’.  If you get a chance, be sure to read it.  Among the victims, were two of the event’s organizers Kevin Sebunia and Paul Oravitz, along with another Plum Soccer Association volunteer, Michael Thomas, who were honored over the weekend,  as many of the event organizers and those who have been part of this soccer tradition, had a bit heavier hearts this past weekend.

“They would have wanted us to keep doing it,” Plum Mayor Harry Schlegel said. “Even though that was mentioned —  ‘maybe you should skip a year in their memory’ — that’s the last thing they would want. They were all heavily involved.”

Pittsburgh Soccer Schedule (8/28/2023 – 9/4/2023) 

Monday, August 28 Pitt M 7:00 PM H Howard Ambrose Urbanic Field
WPIAL Girls Section play begins
Tuesday, Aug 29 WPIAL Boys Section play begins
Wednesday, Aug 30 WPIAL Girls Section play
Thursday August 31 RMU W 4:00 PM H Indiana St North Athletic Complex
Pitt W 7:00 PM H Duquesne Ambrose Urbanic Field
Duq W 7:00 PM A Pitt Ambrose Urbanic Field
Duq M 7:00 PM H Bowling Green Rooney Field
WPIAL Boys Section play
Friday, Sept 1 RMU M 6:00 PM A Bucknell Lewisburg, PA
Pitt M 4:00 PM A Georgetown Washington DC
WPIAL Non-Section (Boys & Girls)
Saturday, Sept 2 WPIAL Non-Section (Boys & Girls)
Sunday, Sep 3 RMU W 1:00 PM H St. Bonaventure North Athletic
Duq W 1:00 PM H St. Francis Rooney Field
Pitt W 4:00 PM H Bowling Green Ambrose Urbanic Field
Sep 5 (Tue) RMU M 3:00 PM A St. Francis (PA) Loretto, PA
WPIAL Boys Section play
Pitt M 7:00 PM H Marshall Ambrose Urbanic Field

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).

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Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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