Fort Pitt Regiment clocked up its first win of the National Premier Soccer League season Friday with a 3-2 triumph over the Erie Commodores in a lively encounter at Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh.
Scottish midfielder Michael Tuohy netted the decisive strike from the penalty spot with five minutes remaining after the Commodores had cancelled out the Regiment’s first two goals.
Fort Pitt advances to a 1-2-3 record (five points) in the NPSL’s Midwest Region. Erie remains on nine points with a 3-0-2 record.
The visitors enjoyed some early pressure and forced a series of corner kicks without threatening Brenden Alfery’s goal. Erie goalkeeper Daniel Mudd saw little action in the opening stages either until he was beaten on nine minutes.
Regiment midfielder Ibrahima Kouyate reacted quickest to a loose ball to race clear in Erie’s penalty area. He steered his left foot shot low across Mudd’s body into the far corner.
Mudd was suddenly the busier of the two goalkeepers as Fort Pitt looked to release the speedy DeShawn Parker with a couple of long balls over the top of the visitors’ defense. Mudd sprinted from his area each time to clear the danger.
Erie drew level on 18 minutes after a sweeping move. Eyale Teshager released Luca Campos down the left flank and Robert Bennett finished off the midfielder’s low cross expertly.
The Commodores were beginning to stretch Fort Pitt’s midfield diamond and find space in wide areas while the hosts still looked most dangerous on long balls.
Arkangelo James flicked a clearance by defender Patrick Sullivan on to strike partner Parker on 28 minutes before sprinting on to a backheel return pass. James hit the target with his shot from the edge of the box. Mudd comfortably pushed the ball to safety.
Alfery got into a spot of bother on 38 minutes when trying to claim a long pass under duress at the edge of his penalty box. The Robert Morris University senior fumbled the ball inches outside of his area to receive a yellow card and concede a free kick in a dangerous position.
Bennett relieved the pressure by sending his effort harmlessly over the crossbar.
ort Pitt’s head coach John Kowalski made four changes at the interval with top scorer Lamine Balde, Brian Fegley, Reuben Jolo and Nate McCann entering the game to pep up the Regiment’s attacking options. Ten minutes of the second half had elapsed when Balde restored Fort Pitt’s lead with his third goal of the season.
The former Bethany College forward latched onto a through ball from Jolo on the inside right channel before taking on an early shot from 25 yards that beat Mudd at his near post.
Fort Pitt had held the lead for nine minutes in the first half. Their advantage lasted a similar spell second time around. Bennett tested Alfery with a dipping half-volley from 25 yards that the goalkeeper could only palm across his goal at full stretch. Kevin Deakin arrived on the scene first to net the rebound.
The Regiment’s big chance to win the game arrived with five minutes remaining when Balde tried to fasten onto a bouncing ball in the 18-yard box. The substitute toppled over under contact from defender Ryan Lund although the decision looked soft.
Scottish midfielder Michael Tuohy kept calm to stroke his penalty kick to Mudd’s right as the goalkeeper dived to his left.
Still Erie could have snatched a point. Luca Campos scampered down the right flank in stoppage time before pulling back a low ball that found Lund in space 10 yards from goal. The defender blazed his effort well over Alfery’s crossbar.
Tempers frayed in the closing seconds. Erie’s Sergio Kobowane picked up two quick cautions and was sent from the field as the visitors frantically chased the game.
Fort Pitt travels to Upstate New York this Sunday to face FC Buffalo at Robert E. Rich Sr. All-High Stadium. The Commodores return to Gus Anderson Field at Erie’s McDowell High School to host the Indiana Fire that same day.