Last season, Pittsburgh Riverhounds defender Willie Hunt scored two goals — his only two of the season — in the final game.
This year, Hunt didn’t have to wait that long to net his first goal. Wednesday night, he scored the second goal of the evening against the Wilmington Hammerheads. It was the second of four goals for Pittsburgh, who beat the Hammerheads by a 4-1 final, the same score as the last time these two teams met. While the scores were the same, the goals were much different.
The Riverhounds other goals came from Corey Hertzog in the 6’ and 90’+ minutes, and the third tally came from Nick Thompson in the 44’ minute. However, it was Hunt’s goal that had Riverhounds fans buzzing, even naming him the Man of the Match.
“Just go up, and put it on frame,” Hunt said, describing his goal after the match. “The ball is in the air, I was behind the defender, so I have a little bit of an advantage going up and hanging up there. That’s one of my stronger assets, when the ball is in the air.”
“I thought Willie was fantastic tonight,” head coach Dave Brandt said after the match. “Willie is the centerback, he is very good in the back. He is a little guy who can get up in the air. It was a great goal. I had both hands up in the air before it went in because you could just see the angle was in. It was a great goal.”
Both Hunt and Thompson spoke after the match about how more consistency from the team has been helping in recent matches.
“I think you can see that with our play,” Thompson said. “There has been more consistency and more cohesion within the group on the field. While we still haven’t gotten all the results we wanted, I think it is pretty clear over the last seven-eight games.”
Hunt also acknowledged the defense is becoming more consistent. Toward the beginning of the season, former head coach Mark Steffens would switch out players frequently. Now, under Brandt, the Riverhounds have a consistent back four of Hunt, Sergio Campbell, Marshall Hollingsworth and Mike Green.
“It’s great creating bonds,” Hunt said. “It was tough in the beginning, we were switching players in and out to find the right fit, and we weren’t winning games, so it was tough to get a rhythm. But, as of late, I think we have been doing a lot better.”
“For a couple of weeks now it’s been an on-one, off-one, which is better than just being off, off, off,” Brandt said, echoing Hunt’s and Thompson’s statements. “There were good spells of possession in Rochester. The score line is the only thing that matters. At the same time, we could’ve, should’ve been up 2-0 at Rochester. We didn’t, and goals change games. We need to be careful and consistent. I think the team has played well.”
The Riverhounds have a chance to keep the momentum going when their last match in August take places on Saturday, August 27, against the Harrisburg City Islanders. The match is part of the Keystone Derby.
“Massive match, it’s our last game event,” Hunt said. “I was lucky enough to be part of last season’s game, when we won the cup. I think the fans would say that was the biggest game for us last year. I’m excited to go back up there and do it again.”
Image credit: Ian Thomson