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Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Riverhounds settle for 1-1 Draw vs North Carolina, extend league unbeaten streak to seven matches

Photo courtesy Ed Thompson

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds picked up a point on Saturday, working a 1-1 draw with North Carolina FC and extending their unbeaten streak to seven consecutive USL games.

Pitt product Edward Kizza scored the lone goal for the home team, knocking a wide open pass into the net in the waning moments of the first half.

The Riverhounds (3-3-4, 13 points) dictated the pace of play during the first half as North Carolina rolled with six defenders, lying in wait to capitalize on mistakes instead of pressuring to create opportunities on their own.

Despite facing heavy traffic, North Carolina goalkeeper Antonio Carrera was up to the task, standing tall and stopping shots from Kenardo Forbes, Kizza and Robbie Mertz.

Carrera also benefitted from lucky bounces, with Forbes deflecting a point-blank opportunity over the net. Another Forbes shot at 28′ trickled out of Carrera’s grasp. Kizza collected the rebound, directing it back toward the net front, but it caromed out of the box toward the sideline.

A Flurry of Chances

Pittsburgh’s defense did their part to make life easy for goalkeeper Gabriel Perrotta, blocking a pair of shot attempts late in the first half.

Carrera’s luck—or the Riverhounds’ lack thereof—switched just before the break. Blackstock broke free, dishing to Kizza in front of a wide-open net to put Pittsburgh ahead 1-0 at 43′.

Blackstock could’ve had an angle at the goal himself, and described his selfless thought process following the game.

“I just felt like he had a better look at it, so if I could give it to him with an open goal, I feel like it’s better than me,” Blackstock said. “Keeper was kinda coming, so I see him kinda blocking my path, figured I’d lay it to Kizza.”

Perrotta saved North Carolina’s lone shot on goal moments later during stoppage time, keeping former Pitt Panther Bryce Washington off the scoresheet in doing so.

The Tide Turns

North Carolina’s opportunities toward the tail end of the first half marked the turning point. Afterward, Riverhounds head coach Bob Lilley said that his team needed to do a better job of capitalizing on their early chances… especially as they ran out of gas down the stretch.

We have to do more, probably, than one goal out of the dominance we had in the first half,” Lilley said. “We needed… to assert ourselves and at least get a second one on the board to get all three points tonight.”

While Pittsburgh notched their lone goal in the first half, Lilley said he noticed their fading endurance even earlier than that. He also pointed out that his Riverhounds entered as the better rested team, having spent a week between games; North Carolina, on the other hand, endured a quick turnaround, last playing on Tuesday.

“There were guys that frankly, to me, looked tired after 20 minutes… I think mentality wise we weren’t strong enough today. We took some shortcuts, even in the first half,” Lilley said. “They didn’t get a sniff for [the first] 30 minutes. The last 15 minutes or so, there were some situations where the midfield was open, they got some transition moments.”

North Carolina drew even at 58′, with forward Evan Conway—one of Pittsburgh Soccer Now‘s players to watch ahead of the game—heading the equalizer past Perrotta.

Defender Pat Hogan just missed putting Pittsburgh back on top six minutes later, heading a corner feed just over the crossbar. North Carolina got off three consecutive shot attempts around the 70 minute mark—with Perrotta and his defenders standing strong—before play bogged down with substitutions.

Lilley described how North Carolina flipped the field.

“Some of it, it turned because they asserted themselves. They took risks going forward, we took shortcuts,” Lilley said. “You have to work harder. When we were tired we didn’t want to run forward and close the field, we wanted to rest.”

North Carolina received a corner kick toward the tail end of stoppage time, but it deflected out of play and into the river to seal the tie.

Up Next:

The Riverhounds will head to the Volunteer State on Saturday, May 25 to take on Memphis 901 FC at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

Glory on the Grass

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Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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