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Playing as ‘one brain’ Steel City FC’s first half goals hold up in 2-0 win in top of table clash with Cleveland

File photo courtesy Jared Todhunter

Steel City FC continued its recent run of success against their rivals from Northeast Ohio, defeating Cleveland SC, 2-0, before a standing room crowd at Founders Field in Cheswick on Saturday evening.

With the win, Steel City (5w-0l-1d, 16 points) seized the top spot in the NPSL’s Great Lakes Conference, as they handed Cleveland (3-1-0, 9 points) its first loss of the season.

First half goals from Gabe Norris (Highlands/Robert Morris) and Eben McIntyre (Charleroi/Pitt), assisted by Anthony DiFalco (Franklin Regional/Duquesne) and Justin Kopay (Moon/St. John’s) were enough, as Steel City shut down Cleveland the rest of the way.

“While I’m very happy to get on the score sheet, especially against Cleveland, at the end of the day it was the by-product of a string of really good actions from the rest of the team,” Norris said after the match.

“I think it really highlighted the team’s chemistry and the fact we try to play as one brain.”

Goalkeeper Garret Wilson earned another clean sheet.

“As a goalkeeper obviously clean sheet is always the priority. This particular clean sheet though, all credit to the 10 guys in front of me flying around and putting them under pressure all game. They didn’t have a chance to breathe and we weren’t even really threatened in front of goal,” Wilson said.  “To put in a performance like that in front of all of our youth players and members was exactly what we wanted to do. As someone who coaches in the club and sees every side of things it’s such a special thing to see everyone in the club top to bottom come together like that, especially against a rival like Cleveland, there’s nothing better.”

Steel City’s Head Coach Dan Brower was especially excited that his team could showcase a solid performance on the same day the soccer club held a women’s/men’s doubleheader with an awards ceremony for Youth teams between games.

“Just so very happy for the players and our club.  Founders was jumping throughout the day and  I want to thank our supporters for an amazing atmosphere.  Our youth players and their families came out in force and our First Team players responded with an equally lively performance,” Brower stated.

For the second straight match against Cleveland SC, Steel City replicated its result from last season’s Great Lakes Conference Final, posting a 2-0 shut out victory, where the home side stayed in control throughout.

“We defended brilliantly – wonderful team effort to keep Cleveland off the board. We scored two great goals and, sure, would have been nice to put the game out of reach with another in the 2nd half but this just means some more things to work on in training, all good!” Brower added.

“Players are feeling confident and playing with more purpose each and every week.  We’re playing a style of football that is true to the club ethos and hopefully excites the fans and our members on match days.”

Steel City continues to roll out many different roster combinations since the start of the 2024 year, as they have used different starting lineups going back to their Open Cup match in April, to the first six contests in league play.

“We were missing a few key pieces and so the depth of our squad took center stage.  After this match, we’ve already had 28 players play in league matches and I expect that over 10 of our Academy products will find game minutes this summer,” Brower said.

“Steel City is about over-achieving and that can only happen by developing a thoughtful process-based approach – supported at all levels – and a winning culture.  Our Steel City First Team continues to be about Player Development, plus results.”

Starting Lineups

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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).

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