Harrisburg, PA (May 24, 2017) – In what usually is a match full of drama and intrigue the Harrisburg City Islanders and Pittsburgh Riverhounds played to a scoreless draw in the second leg of the Keystone Derby Cup presented by K&L Gates and The Pennsylvania Lottery Wednesday night at FNB Field.
The Islanders didn’t have any shortage of chances to make an impression on the game but the final passes weren’t clicking and shots were going far from their intended target.
While the offense couldn’t find their footing, the defensive lineup of Lee Nishanian, Jamie Thomas, Tiago Calvano and Shawn McLaws stood tall to keep a clean sheet on the Island for the first time this season.
“Defensively we’re doing really well,” said Jamie Thomas. “In the attacking third, our decisions need to get a lot better. Whether that is shooting or passing at the right time.”
The draw gets Harrisburg one point in the standings, moving them to 10th place, but keeps them behind in the Keystone Derby Cup competition. Harrisburg will have to go unbeaten with at least one win to have a chance in retaining the Pennsylvanian title this season.
Harrisburg held possession for the majority of the first half and controlled the rate of play with a series of crisp and accurate passes that allowed the Islanders to work their way into dangerous areas but they couldn’t find the quality to get a good look on the net.
Aaron Wheeler had the best chance of the first half for either team. He split the defense and found himself alone with the Riverhounds goalie Trey Mitchell. Mitchell stood tall against the Islanders leading goal scorer and punched the shot away.
Although Pittsburgh didn’t control the play they did have two high-quality chances to break the ice. Romeo Parkes, in his first start of the season, had the first chance against the Islanders new netminder, Sean Lewis, who was up to the task.
This was the first time Lewis has seen action with the Islanders and he looked composed with several solid saves along with smart plays with the ball on his feet.
“Defensively we were solid,” said Head Coach Bill Becher. “Sean (Lewis) stepped in and did really well like we thought he would.”
Harrisburg pushed the pace of play for most of the half but still went into the locker room scoreless after 45 minutes of play.
Pittsburgh came out of the locker room with a lot of pace and tried to force the issue on offense before falling back into a defensive lineup.
Harrisburg had several quality scoring chances in the second half to break the scoreless tie and grab the win. The first was early in the half when Jonny Mendoza ripped a shot just over the net after faking out a Pittsburgh to get an open look on goal.
Mendoza’s chance was quickly followed by another Rasheed Olabiyi laser shot that Mitchell played perfectly to parry the chance over the crossbar and out of harm’s way.
Lewis was not called upon much in his first start but in the final moments of the match he came up with his best save of the night. Ben Fitzpatrick made a quick run down the side of the pitch and fired a low shot right to Lewis who was in perfect position to make the save.
“It was far from a perfect performance on my end, but overall it was good enough to keep a clean sheet.” said Lewis on his first start and shutout with the Islanders.
This was a much-maligned matchup between these two heated rivals with the defensive effort being the common key to keep the match at a scoreless draw.
This is the second scoreless draw for Harrisburg this season and the first time they were held scoreless at home this season. They still have not fallen at home yet this season and continue to collect points with every match.
The City Islanders are back in action on Sunday, May 28 against the Bethlehem Steel FC at Goodman Stadium. This is the second match of the season against their in-state rival from the eastern side of the state. Harrisburg took the first game 3-2 on a Paul Wilson 90th minute goal.
ABOUT THE HARRISBURG CITY ISLANDERS
The Harrisburg City Islanders are entering their 14th Season in Central Pennsylvania as a professional soccer team in the United Soccer League. The league represents the highest level of competition in the United States and Canada outside of Major League Soccer (MLS). In addition to the professional squad, the Harrisburg City Islanders Academy fields youth teams for boys and girls ages 9-23. The Harrisburg City Islanders Academy is dedicated to player development in Central, Pennsylvania. For more information about the Harrisburg City Islanders please visit www.cityislanders.com or call 717.441.GOAL (4625).
P:717.441.4625 C: 717.602.5369 E: firstname.lastname@example.org