The crowd at Highmark Stadium witnessed one of the greatest games in American soccer history Saturday night as the Pittsburgh Riverhounds salvaged a two-goal deficit with less that five seconds remaining in regulation time to defeat the Harrisburg City Islanders by 6-5.
Kevin Kerr sent Pittsburgh’s fans into ecstasy with a goal from close range in the waning moments of stoppage time for a miraculous victory in the Keystone Derby.
Three first-half goals from the visitors appeared to have deflated the mood among Hounds fans after the late dramatics from the midweek cup win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies. A spirited second-half fight back seemed to have been extinguished when Islanders substitute Garret Pettis put Harrisburg 5-3 ahead with four minutes left.
Hounds captain Danny Earls pulled one back as the fourth official prepared to raise his board showing the additional minutes. Rob Vincent struck a piledriver of a free kick into Nick Noble’s top corner in the first added minute, and Kerr ended a dramatic night with a cool finish after exchanging passes with Lebo Moloto.
“The only thing close to this was when I lost 7-4 with Charlotte Eagles to Orlando in the 2013 championship game,” said Riverhounds head coach Mark Steffens. “Being down two goals with a minute to go in the game, it’s amazing.
“I really don’t have any words.”
There was little hint of the drama to follow at the interval. Harrisburg had opened the scoring on 28 minutes when midfielder Enric Valles found Yann Ekra by air on a long cross through the penalty area. Ekra took a controlling touch before finding the back of the net with a firm strike from 18 yards.
The Islanders struck again nine minutes later when Valles sent a ball through the Hounds’ backline to find Danny DiPrima for the easy finish.
Pittsburgh’s shaky defending had returned. Anthony Arena had the ball taken off his foot by Jose Barril one minute later and the Harrisburg midfielder buried yet another ball into the back of the Hounds’ net to stretch the lead to three.
The Hounds came out hungry at the start of the second half. Vincent got them on the board on 48 minutes with a goal from six yards out to convert Moloto’s perfect cross.
This put the momentum temporarily in the Hounds’ favor. Substitute Amara Soumah guided a beautiful header into the top corner of the Islanders net on 52 minutes to pull the hosts within one. It was Soumah’s first professional goal.
The Islanders seemed to muffle any comeback hopes four minutes later when Cardel Benbow found Jason Plumhoff on the goal line for an easy finish to make it 4-2 to the visitors.
Still the Hounds fought back. They were awarded a penalty kick with nine minutes remaining when Erick Cruz pulled down Moloto inside the 6-yard box. Earls tucked away the rebound after goalkeeper Noble blocked Kerr’s initial kick.
Harrisburg appeared to tie up the points for good when Pettis latched onto Valles’ third defense-splitting pass of the night to lob the charging Ryan Hulings and convert an easy finish for a 5-3 Islanders lead.
Steffens’ side refused to accept defeat and pulled off the most remarkable result in Riverhounds history to secure to move above the Islanders in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings.
The Hounds remain at home next weekend when first-year club Saint Louis F.C. visits Pittsburgh for the first time. Brazilian forward Vini Dantas scored his first goal for the Hounds to secure a 1-1 tie when the teams met in Fenton, Missouri on April 11.
Visit Riverhounds.com for ticket information or call the Highmark Stadium box office on (412) 325-7241 to speak to a representative.
HAR – Yann Ekra 28 (Enric Valles)
HAR – Danny DiPrima 37 (Enric Valles)
HAR – Jose Barril 38
PGH – Rob Vincent 48 (Lebo Moloto)
PGH – Amara Soumah 52 (Miro Cabrilo)
HAR – Jason Plumhoff 56 (Cardel Benbow)
PGH – Danny Earls 81
HAR – Garret Pettis 86 (Enric Valles)
PGH – Danny Earls 90
PGH – Rob Vincent 90+
PGH – Kevin Kerr 90+ (Lebo Moloto)
PGH – Amara Soumah 90+