By Erie Commodores FC
The 2020 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) Members Cup’s Rust Belt group came to a
close on Wednesday night at the Hagerty Family Events Center, and there was certainly plenty of
excitement to be had.
In game one of the doubleheader, the Pittsburgh Hotspurs shut-out the Erie Commodores 3-0 on
the heels of three first-half goals. Pittsburgh then had to wait for the result of the second contest
to see if they would win the overall event.
It was a result worth waiting for.
When Cleveland SC defeated FC Buffalo 3-1 in game two, the Hotspurs knew the trophy was
Pittsburgh won the competition based on goal differential. The Hotspurs and Cleveland both
finished 1-0-1, but it was Pittsburgh that finished plus three (five goals scored, two allowed),
while the club from Northeast Ohio finished plus two (five goals scored, three allowed). FC
Buffalo finished 1-1, while the Commodores came in at 0-2.
The opening match of the evening saw the Hotspurs waste little time getting to work. Nick
Kolaric netted a goal from Tate Mahoney just 45 seconds in to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 advantage.
After 37 minutes of relatively even play, Mahoney made it 2-nil on a brilliant, unassisted goal.
Just three minutes later, Nathan Dossantos capped off the scoring for the half – and the game –
with a strike that was set-up by Nathan Dragisich.
In the nightcap, an outright victory would have given Buffalo the title, but it was not to be. After
44 plus minutes of even – and physical – play, Cleveland SC’s Antonio Manfut was tackled in
the box. As he was setting up for the go-ahead PK, foul weather struck. Lightning (and quite a
bit of rain) forced a lengthy delay. When action resumed at 10:44 pm, Manfut struck the ball
into the back of the net and gave his squad a 1-nil advantage.
The lead would be brief, though, as moments later Saleman Salim blasted the ball in off of a
corner during extra time to knot it up at one.
Because of the previous delay, halftime was scrapped and the teams played on after switching
sides. The physical play continued, and it seemed as if the contest was destined to end in a 1-1
draw. But in the final minutes, Paolo Termine stunned Buffalo with a beautiful goal which gave
Cleveland the lead for good. Vinny Bell added a stoppage-time PK for extra measure, ensuring
the 3-1 Cleveland SC victory.
While Cleveland celebrated the win, the Pittsburgh Hotspurs were able to celebrate as Members
Cup Rust Belt group winners.
Photo Credit: Erie Commodores FC