Hounds

Hounds blow early lead, draw Charleston

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PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC

If at first you don't succeed, tie, tie again.

Look, I was never great at proverbs. But after tonight, when the Riverhounds (2-1-5) played to a 2-2 draw against the Charleston Battery (4-1-3) at MUSC Health Stadium, this one applies directly to the Hounds' 2019 season as a whole.

Because the Hounds had the game won — on the road, against the No. 5-ranked squad in the USL's Eastern Conference, no less. Not even five minutes in, Hounds midfielder Kevin Kerr did this off a beautiful setup from defender Joe Greenspan and captain/midfielder Kenardo Forbes:

Minutes later, Forbes added to the fun himself with a little bit of this:

And just like that, it looked like the Hounds' night. Finally. This was the offensive explosion the team needed. In the week leading up to this game, the focus — from the coaches to the assistant coaches to the players to the waterboys — centered around one thing: Scoring.

Last Saturday at Highmark Stadium, the Hounds got out to a sluggish start, falling behind Nashville SC 2-0 in the first half before turning on the jets late and netting two of their own to even the score and escape with a point. Early on in this one, it certainly looked like that late momentum carried across state borders, as the Hounds appeared as polished and as lethal as they have at any point this season.

And then... Well, it shouldn't be a surprise. Did you read that section about the Hounds' contest vs. Nashville SC last week? It can happen. A team can go into the half, make adjustments and come out with some fire, and that's exactly what the Charleston Battery did Saturday on their home turf.

In the 76th minute, Battery midfielder Zeiko Lewis converted on a penalty kick, then forward Nicque Daley added the equalizer just five minutes later. It was a turnaround eerily similar to the Hounds' own reversal last week, and Hounds head coach Bob Lilley was quick to admit the result stung after the Hounds' excellence early.

"I think it’s a game we’re going to regret right now, but we need to move forward,” Lilley said after the game.

While getting just one out of three points hurts now, Lilley bounced back with some optimism, noting that, yeah, the Charleston Battery is a tough squad. Getting anything on the road against them matters.

“It’s typically a good result in Charleston," he said. "I thought we battled well. I thought we were ready to play. I thought we executed the game plan really well. In the second half, we lost our way a bit and they had the momentum when they got the penalty.”

In the end, it's another point — but just one. For a team emphasizing three, three, three, this isn't going to cut it. The Hounds remain competitive against elite competition though, and they'll return to action Tuesday, May 14, for the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The team will take a bye week then face the winner of the match between Erie Commodores FC and Dayton Dutch Lions.

• The Hounds held the Battery to one shot in the first half.

• Kyle Morton got the start in goal for a second-straight game for the Hounds, making a clutch save in the 88th minute to prevent the Battery from taking the lead.

• Kerr tied Corey Hertzog for third-most goals in Hounds history with his early blast. Kerr is also tied with Hounds Hall of Famer David Flavius for most assists in club history at 25.

• If Erie Commodores FC wins its match vs. Dayton Dutch Lions, the Hounds will travel away to Erie for their May 14 clash. If the Dutch Lions take home the victory, the Hounds will host them at Highmark Stadium.

• Hounds midfielder Sammy Kahsai made his professional debut tonight.

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