Perseverance helps Red Coats find winning touch
During the first half of their Friday night match against Syracuse FC, Fort Pitt Regiment head coach John Kowalski could be heard telling his team, “It’s coming. Stick with it.” The veteran coach was extolling his offense to continue to follow their game plan and goals would follow.
Moments later the persistence was rewarded; in the 35th minute Joaquin Vicent received a cross field pass through the Syracuse area from Lucas Godinho to find space behind the defense. The Spanish winger slotted the ball inside the post past goalkeeper Jake Leahy to open the FPR scoring.
Four minutes later Lucas Canineu netted the first of his two goals. Left back Max Flick streaked down the left side before finding Canineu in between a couple of Syracuse defenders and the midfielder converted the chance to put the Regiment up 2-0.
Canineu’s second goal came in the 45th minute. Following a corner kick by his brother Tulio, the ball was banged around in the Syracuse area with a shot forcing Leahy to make a diving save. Canineu quickly drilled the rebound to the back of the Syracuse net to give the Regiment a 3-0 halftime lead.
Syracuse came out of the locker room for the second half looking to claw their way back into the game and less than a minute into the second stanza Joe Falcone was able to take a clear shot that forced Rob McKelvey to make a diving save. Syracuse kept up the pressure in the early portion of the second half keeping McKelvey and the FPR defenders busy.
In the 75th minute Jacob Kohlbrenner made a run with the ball eluding the FPR defense to face McKelvey 1v1 in the area. McKelvey sprang off his line with a sliding tackle that thwarted the opportunity but the referee whistled him for a foul. Kohlbrenner converted the penalty kick to put Syracuse on the scoreboard 3-1.
In stoppage time, Djimon Johnson caught McKelvey off his line and flipped the ball toward the FPR goal but McKelvey was able to race back to his line and palm the ball over the crossbar. A second Syracuse goal would have created a helter-skelter final few moments of stoppage time but with the subsequent corner cleared by Mikel Ubeda the final whistle signaled the conclusion of the match.
The persistence that brought goals in the first half is also shown in the way the team has handled the loss of multiple starters during the three-game skid. Matt McDyer returned after missing two games due to a broken hand sustained in the Rochester game. FPR has also been playing without starters Lamine Balde, Nick Kolarac, Scott Rissler, and Anthony Virgara.
The 3-1 win lifts the Regiment’s record to 5-3. Buffalo visits for a 2:00 pm tilt on Sunday at Highmark Stadium.
Contributor: By Tim McCoy/Fort Pitt Regiment
Photo Credit: Tim McCoy/Fort Pitt Regiment