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Weekend Road Warriors: Steel City earn back-to-back road wins to remain unbeaten in NPSL play

Photo courtesy Steel City FC

Steel City FC remain unbeaten in NPSL conference play following a pair of road wins on Friday and Saturday, beating Akron City FC, 2-1, then capping a six-point weekend by defeating Niagara 1812, 5-1, with seven different goal scorers contributing in both matches.

Steel City is now 4-0-1 (W-L-D, good for 13 points, for the season in Great Lakes Conference action.

Facing the challenge of two games within 48 hours is a testament to our team’s quality and depth,” Veteran midfielder Nicky Kolarac told Pittsburgh Soccer Now.

“This week, we showcased our quality and resilience, securing all 6 points as we set out to do.”

On Sunday, former Riverhounds Academy and Kiski Area standout Anders Bordoy scored twice, including the first half equalizer for Steel City, in a match that was level at the half.

Second half goals were also scored by Nathan Graeca (Dubois/John Carroll Univ.) , Eben McIntyre (Charleroi/Pitt) and Alex Hauskrecht (Winchester Thurston/Pitt) and Kai McLoughlin (Robert Morris).

On Friday, the defending Great Lakes Conference champs were pushed hard by Akron City FC in a match that wasn’t decided until the final whistle.

Steel City took the early lead in the 16th minute, as brothers Justin Kopay (Moon/St. John’s) and Ryan Kopay (Moon/Akron) build-up play led to a well-placed ball to the back post — where Ryan Mertz buried the go-ahead goal.

After 10 minutes of attacking the backline of Steel City and goalkeeper Garry Watson, Akron would find the break they were looking for.

Standout forward Sam Sarver would receive the ball over the top from counterpart Stefan Dobrijevic on a break past the opposing defensive line.  With a nice touch to the side and a bit of speed, Sarver would play the ball back post where it caromed into the back of the net to level the match at 1-1 in the 55th minute.

Following an Akron City equalizer in the second half, Dobrijevic proved to be a continued nuisance, but Watson was up to the task, making a key save in the 70th minute.

Steel City responded as a pair of fresh second half subs connected for the game-winner.  Steel City’s elder statesmen and veteran midfielder Nicky Kolarac (West Allegheny/St. Francis), delivered a precise ball into the box for Nathan Prex (Seneca Valley/ Lebanon Valley), who headed in his chance to give Steel City the 2-1 lead.

Despite some back-and-forth play and chances on both sides in what was an intense battle, Steel City hung on for the weekend opening victory.

“I don’t think there was necessarily many nerves, but they [the players] were playing in a rhythm that was just too slow,” ACFC Head Coach Andy Hoggarth was quoted on NPSL.com.

“We had a little more about us in the second half and got the equalizer.  But we conceded two back post goals on runners which is frustrating… we have got to move on.”

Now, Dan Brower’s squad will face rival Cleveland Ambassadors for the first time this season in a rematch of last season’s Conference Final on Saturday at Founders Field (7 p.m. kickoff).  Cleveland is also off to a good start, as they’re unbeaten (3-0-0, 9 points).

“The coaches put in an amazing game plan and the players executed it perfectly this weekend,” Kolarac added. “We now have a big week of training ahead to get focused for another quality team in Cleveland SC.”

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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