The Harrisburg City Islanders earned their first win in 10 games with an improbable 1-0 victory over Louisville City FC on Saturday night at FNB Field.
Over the last month, Louisville has been rolling and came into the match looking to pick up their fourth win in as many games and take the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Harrisburg, however, had other ideas.
The pink jerseys not only gave the Islanders a new look, but the team played with a new energy that saw Pedro Ribeiro becoming more active in scoring opportunities as the game wore on.
Ribeiro had a few chances throughout the match and finally was able to cash in on a goal in the 54th minute. His first goal of the season and the ultimate game-winner was a hard low shot from the top of the box that beat the diving Louisville goalie.
Harrisburg’s defense stood tall to keep the potent Louisville offense scoreless to grab three points for the first time in over two months.
“It’s a great win for us no doubt,” said head coach Bill Becher. “I think the boys have been playing well and this is well deserved but we know we have a lot more to do.”
With the win, the Islanders jump into 13th place with 13 points and sit just five spots out of a playoff berth. Harrisburg will look to keep the winning ways going when they head back on the road for a matchup against Toronto FC II on Saturday, July 1 at 5 p.m.
Harrisburg had an early chance to break through and end their scoreless drought with a penalty kick just minutes into the match. Jamie Thomas was taken down by Louisville’s goalie in the box while attempting to play a high, direct pass from McLaws.
Ribeiro was charged to take the kick and powered a hard shot on target, but the Louisville netminder was up to the task to parry the shot away and clear of any danger.
Shortly after the missed penalty kick, Louisville started to find their footing in the attacking third. Louisville’s Cameron Lancaster created time and space to give Louisville two scoring chances in less than a minute. Both runs resulted in shots on goal, but Miller stood his ground and kept both out of his net.
Harrisburg’s defense was the story of the first half and a huge reason why the two teams went into the break knotted in a scoreless tie.
After the start of the half, the Islanders and Ribeiro took charge of the match with a few quality chances in the first five minutes of the half. Ribeiro’s first chance of the second half rang off the crossbar and was just narrowly missed crossing the line to give the Islanders the lead.
Minutes later Ribeiro got another chance and would not miss from the spot at the top of the box. He collected a pass from Rasheed Olabiyi and powered a low, hard shot into the bottom right corner of the net and just past the outstretched hands of Ranjitsingh.
Harrisburg continued to push and almost found the back of the net a few more times, but the story after the goal was the poise of this Islanders defense.
The back four played without one of their mainstays in Lee Nishanian, who was forced to sit out the match due to a red card. This seemed to be no problem for an Islanders backline that faltered all attempts by Louisville and Miller was in perfect position to collect any balls that made it through.
“It feels good to finally get another shutout,” said Miller. “I thought we had been playing pretty good defensively and tonight we were able to put it all together.”
Miller had his second great game in a row and looks to be getting back to his 2015 form when he won goalie of the year. He only had to face two registered shots but did a lot of work to keep the ball out of dangerous areas.
In the final moments, Miller was forced to come far off his line to clear out a searching pass that almost found Lancaster in all alone on net. Louisville didn’t threaten too much after that chance and Harrisburg came away with their first win in 10 matches.
The Islanders make their next appearance at home against the New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday, July 12 at 7 p.m. That game is followed by another matchup with the Richmond Kickers on Saturday, July 15 at 7 p.m.