Stephen Okai scored his first goal of the season last night for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
It was perfect timing from Okai, who has 12 appearances for the Hounds this season.
The Riverhounds were already down 0-1 against the Kickers, who had their tally from Raul Gonzalez in the 65′ minute. However, nearing the end of the match, Okai beat goalkeeper Matt Turner for a 82′ minute goal.
Okai’s goal was assisted by Victor Souto, who entered the match in the 68′ minute for Danny Earls.
“Victor had good vision and I knew he was going to slip me in, so I tried to push forward a little bit,” Okai said after the match. “When I got the touch, I was like ‘wow, I have to do everything I can to put the ball in.’”
It was the only shot that Okai took the whole night. Other teammates – like Kevin Kerr, Chevaughn Walsh and Romeo Parkes – had shots on target, but were saved by Turner.
“I’m proud of the guys for hanging in there, fighting back,” said Riverhounds head coach Dave Brandt. “I think we had to get that goal – good goal from Stephen and Victor. I think by the time it came – it was coming, it was about time – and we were all on the edge of our seat.”
Starting in goal for the Riverhounds was Trey Mitchell, who had three saves. Mitchell denied Patrick McCann, Sunny Jane and Anthony Grant of the Kickers.
Shifting back to defense for the match was Marshall Hollingsworth. Other than Hollingsworth’s move, the rest of the back line remained similar, with Tobi Adewole and Jamal Jack at the centerback positions and Taylor Washington on the left.
“I thought Jamal [Jack] in particular was a beast tonight. I thought he was very good. I thought Tobi was good, too,” Brandt said.
The Riverhounds aren’t far off the mark to reach the playoffs, only three points to be exact. The Eastern Conference has been tight this year, with Brandt and Okai both calling it a reasonable – and attainable – achievement to make the playoffs.
“Still 30 points left on the table for us, but we’ve given away two points in a lot of games – maybe four of the last six with those five draws,” Brandt said. “I think we have the right to expect of ourselves in three or four of those draws easily to say ‘hey, that one was there for the win.’”
“I will tell you guys nothing good comes on a silver platter and every good thing that’s going to happen you have to go through ups and downs,” Okai said. “That doesn’t mean that we should give up. We will keep on fighting. You never know. Anything can happen at any given point. We’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to keep pushing until we get to where we want to be.”
The Riverhounds will continue their quest for more points on Saturday against the Harrisburg City Islanders. The match will take place in Harrisburg, at FNB Field. This is the final match of the Keystone Derby series. If the Hounds can claim a win, they will lift the trophy.
The next home match – at Highmark Stadium – for the Hounds will take place on August 26 against the Bethlehem Steel FC.
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