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Pulse of Pittsburgh Soccer (9/12/2023): Robert Morris-Duquesne men to renew ‘Cross-Tahn Derby’ on Wednesday

Photo courtesy Robert Morris University Athletics

We are back with another, it’s nearly mid-September, the early part of the Fall soccer season is flying by edition of the Pulse of Pittsburgh Soccer!!

First of all, before setting the stage for the week ahead, I wanted to be sure to mention that Pittsburgh Soccer Now is offering our readers an opportunity to become a subscriber to our site. Subscribers can support and help us continue to grow the game in our region, as we continue to strive to bring the best coverage possible. Subscribers will have access to exclusive bonus content, plus we also listened, and will offer a virtually ad-free browsing experience.

We are the only media outlet in the Pittsburgh area with a roster of soccer-knowledgeable contributors that include writers, photographers, podcasters and analysts who are devoted to covering all aspects of the game from high schools, college, pros, international and many community-based soccer entities.  If there’s a soccer story or feature that relates to the fans, players, coaches and members of the Greater Pittsburgh soccer community, we are there to bring it to you.

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This week’s schedule gets off to a fun start for local soccer fans as two of Pittsburgh’s Division I college men’s programs will go head-to-head as Robert Morris and Duquesne will meet at Rooney Field on Wednesday night.

This will be the 21st meeting all-time between the programs, as the Dukes hold the edge (14-4-2) in the series. In this series, 15 times the game has ended with one team winning by one goal. Four games have gone to double-overtime and another two have ended in single-overtime. Most recently last season, the Colonials fell to Duquesne, 2-1 at the NAC.

“We are excited for the challenge at Duquesne,” Jonathan Potter, Robert Morris’ first-year coach, who has posted a 3-0-2 overall record thus far.

“They are a very talented team, and are well coached in all phases of the game.  We expect a great atmosphere and the opportunity to play a local rival is truly special for our student-athletes.”

The Dukes, coming off two very strong seasons in 2021 and 2022, when they finished as Atlantic 10-Runner Up, and then Atlantic 10 Semifinalist, have started this season with a 2-1-1 mark, bouncing back strong after an opening loss to George Mason, with wins over Virginia Tech and Niagara.

Head Coach Chase Brooks has guided Duquesne to an impressive home record in the past two-plus seasons, as the Dukes have lost only once at Rooney Field, and that happened to be in the Atlantic 10 Semifinal last season to Loyola (Ill).

Brooks has been impressed with Robert Morris early this season.

“RMU is on a roll to start the new season,” Brooks said.

“We are looking forward to a competitive, fun, cross-town derby with them!”

While our regular Duquesne beat writer Zac Weiss, will not be able to make it, we felt a local showdown like this will need the full PSN coverage treatment, as both Matt Popchock (reporting) and Ed Thompson (photos) plan to be on hand to report and catch images of the action.

If you need a guide to keeping track of the dozen or so local players who will be on both sides of the ‘Cross-Tahn Derby’ — here’s the full list:

Robert Morris:  Colton Spence, Jr., Def (Deer Lakes); Lucas Hammerle, Jr., MF (Connellsville); Gabe Norris, Jr., MF,/F (Highlands); Kyler Miller, Fr., MF/F (Greensburg Central Catholic); Nolan Hutter, Grad., MF (Montour).

Duquesne:  Nate Dragisich, Sr., MF (West Allegheny); Jacob Conti, Fr., GK (The Kiski School); Tate Mohney, Sr., F (Butler); Cameron Territo, Sr., MF/Def. (South Allegheny); Johnny Dragisich, So., MF (West Allegheny); Evan Anderson, So., F (North Allegheny); Rielly Nickles, So., MF/Def. (Moon); Anthony DiFalco, So. MF/F (Franklin Regional); Jaxin Ervin, RS Fr., MF (West Allegheny), plus Jack Emmanuel, Jr., Def. (Erie McDowell).

The Pittsburgh ties go beyond the rosters too, as both sides now have coaches with local connections.  Now serving as Chase Brooks’ assistant, is Andrew Marshall, who many Pittsburgh soccer fans may remember from his days playing with the Riverhounds, and most recently, he helped guide successful boys squads at Quaker Valley High School. On the other side, former Ambridge High School keeper, Austin Gorman, who played four years at La Roche, and has since built an impressive coaching resume, is now serving as the Colonials goalkeepers coach.

Additionally, numerous Duquesne and Robert Morris players were teammates on Steel City FC’s NPSL Midwest Region Finalist and Great Lakes Division Championship Squad, that made quite a run through the NPSL playoffs this summer.

The Duquesne contributors to Steel City FC included Conti, Emmanuel, Mohney and DiFalco, while RMU’s Norris, Hutter and William Dodzi Afawabo were part of that squad.

By the way, if you missed PSN’s Interview with Gabe Norris, after Steel City FC won the Great Lakes Division Final, be sure to check it out on Pittsburgh Soccer Now‘s YouTube Channel.

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Looking back at the previous weekend in Pittsburgh soccer, a few of us were wondering if it was the first time ever that all three men’s division I teams and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC kicked off simultaneously, shortly after 7 p.m. — Robert Morris, Duquesne and Pitt along with the Hounds.

And sure enough, all four teams won their matches, as Pitt (1-0 in ACC) and Robert Morris (1-0 in Horizon League) joined the Riverhounds now sitting on top of their respective league standings.

The Panthers erased any concerns that may have come from the two previous week losses to top 10 opponents, Marshall and Georgetown.  Jay Vidovich had his team ready to play at the start of ACC competition, and that’s the most important thing.  Two Panthers scored their first goals, including former Charleroi High School standout Eben McIntyre and Jackson Gillman, who had a terrific freshman campaign in 2022, but hadn’t scored.

The Colonials had the most exciting win, as it took a Anass Hadran’s penalty kick completed a come-from-behind win in their first conference match at Northern Kentucky.  It also had to be an emotional moment for Hadran, to have an uplifting moment, only hours after he learned that his homeland Morocco was ravished by a destructive earthquake.

Hadran’s buzzer beating PK lifts Robert Morris to comeback win at NKU

 

On the Women’s college side, Robert Morris, Duquesne and Pitt each begin conference play this coming week, all on the road.  Robert Morris remained unbeaten (6-0-2) in non conference play, thanks to a 1-1 draw vs Le Moyne, and will now face Purdue (Ft. Wayne) in their first Horizon League match on Thursday evening.

Duquesne women will travel to North Carolina to face Davidson on Friday, and Pitt women open ACC play at NC State on Sunday.

The Riverhounds are on the road, as Head Coach Bob Lilley is hoping his team can play at an even higher level than they did in their 3-1 win against Loudoun United on Saturday, as the veteran gaffer had plenty to say after the match about his team’s lack of energy and inability to put that match away sooner.

The Hounds will be on the road in Miami on Saturday, then they return to Highmark Stadium for their final two home matches on Sept. 23 and 30.  The crowd of 5,515 this weekend was the largest regular season crowd, and the Hounds are clearly in position with two matches remaining to post their highest average attendance during the Highmark Stadium era.

PITTSBURGH SOCCER CALENDAR (9/12/2023 – 9/18/2023)

Tues Sept 12
WPIAL Boys Section play
Wed Sep 13 RMU M 7:00 PM A Duquesne Rooney Field
Duq M 7:00 PM H Robert Morris Rooney Field
WPIAL Girls Section play
Thur Sep 14 RMU W 7:00 PM A Purdue (Ft. Wayne) Ft. Wayne, IN
WPIAL Boys Section play
Friday, Sept 15 Duq W 7:00 PM A Davidson Davidson, NC
Pitt M 7:00 PM A Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
Saturday, Sept 16 Duq M 7:00 PM H UMass Rooney Field
HOUNDS 7:00 PM A Miami Miami, FL
WPIAL Non-Section (Boys & Girls)
Sun Sept 17 RMU W 12 Noon H Green Bay North Athletic Complex
Pitt W 2:00 PM A NC State Raleigh, NC
Duq W 1:00 PM H Loyola (CH) Rooney Field
Mon Sept 18
WPIAL Girls Section play
Pitt M 7:00 PM H F. Dickenson 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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