Friday night’s matchup had everything ripe for an exciting battle under the lights at Gannon University’s McConnell Family Stadium. Erie came into the night unbeaten through six matches and looking to keep that record intact. Fort Pitt came into the night’s contest coming off the season’s first loss to the Rochester Lancers on Tuesday night. This clash would carry a lot of weight in the race for the conference crown.
Erie’s plan was to see what their I-79 neighbors were capable of. This was the first matchup against the two sides for the 2018 NPSL season and Erie only had previous match streams to go off of. From the first whistle, the Commodores were on the front foot and provided much of the attacking. For the first ten minutes Erie connected many passes and put combinations together through the middle of the park that left Fort Pitt chasing the ball. It wasn’t until the 12th minute that Fort Pitt found their breakthrough. On a mistimed and unforced error from Erie, Fort Pitt picked the ball up and attacked Erie’s goal. The cross from Fort Pitt found the Commodores center back and left back crossed up, leaving Anthony Virgara free in front of goal. Virgara would find the back of the net, putting Fort Pitt ahead 1-0.
In the 27th minute Mikel Ubeda picked up the match’s first caution. The foul would not be forgotten quickly as Erie’s Rigg would have to be subbed as his night would not go any further. In the 31st minute, Jack Simpson replaced Rigg in the striker spot. Simpson, who hasn’t been available for selection for a few weeks due to injury, would see his first minutes for the Commodores since the beginning of the season. Simpson wasted no time coming on as a substitute. Gabriel Dos Santos Peres would win a well-timed tackle in the midfield and then played the ball down the line to the midfielder Craig Quinn. Quinn, a fellow Scotsman, would play a beautiful cross in from the right side of the field and found a streaking Simpson in the middle of the box. Simpson turned the ball into the back of the net, leveling the score at 1-1.
Both teams would head to the locker room at halftime with the score line at 1-1.
After the break, Erie went right back to what they were doing in the first half, continuing to put pressure on Fort Pitt’s back line and pushing their pressure back into their side of the field. The choppiness would continue in the second half, but this time Erie would have a free kick in the middle of the field, about 20 yards from frame. Simpson would again provide the strike that Erie needed, swinging the free kick into the left side of the frame off a Fort Pitt defender’s deflection and putting Erie on top 2-1 in the 58th minute.
Fort Pitt put together a string of passing and provided an attack at Erie’s back line. Fort Pitt would successfully get into the box and win a foul that would provide a penalty kick for Fort Pitt This was an opportunity for them to level the score. Fort Pitt’s Nick Kolarac would set up and blast the ball off the bar and the ball would bounce out to the top of the box providing another shot for Pitt. The second shot would be deflected by Andy Bennett and ultimately kept out of the net by Nicolau Neto. The score would remain 2-1 in favor of the Commodores. Five minutes of stoppage time would give Fort Pitt some last opportunities to try and get out of Erie with a point, but it was Erie’s Cam ‘The Postman’ Philpot that would find the back of the net in the 94th minute.
Contributor: Lane T. King/Erie Commodores FC
Photo Credit: Will Gerbik and Jennifer White/Acacia Studios