7PM – Highmark Stadium
Match Officials, as assigned by PRO:
REF: Mr. Calin Radosav
AR1: Ms. Adrienne McDonald
AR2: Mr. Brandon Smith
4TH: Mr. Alfonso Fajardo
What a time to face Harrisburg, no? The Riverhounds, coming off their most disappointing result of the season, are coming home to play one of the biggest matches of the season. It will be a test to show if the squad has the resilience to bounce back and put together a full 90 minutes against their in-state rivals at a time when three points would be critical. It’s hard to say that you have must-wins in the first 10 matches of the season, but it’s Harrisburg, it’s at home, and it’s must-win.
For the Hounds, it seems to come down to putting it all together for an entire match. Every game has been close, which means every touch of the ball is important. It has been the one defensive lapse here, or the poorly played pass there that has been the difference between wins, losses, and draws. We’ve seen enough to know that the ability is there to be successful, but it hasn’t come together in one match. Disappointing, yes, but even more so when the lengthy pre-season should have meant that this squad would be ahead of the league in terms of being prepared to compete for a full match. A victory over Harrisburg, a lead in the Keystone Derby, and a step up in the Old Guard Shield, would do wonders to ease concerns.
For Harrisburg, be prepared to yell at Nick Noble as he sits the bench, for former Rhino Brandon Miller has locked down the starting position in net. In terms of offensive production, the work load has been spread among five players each having found the back of the net once over their four previous contests. However, it is someone who has yet to net a goal, James Thomas, who has probably had the best opportunities to score. Harrisburg is a team that has yet to create a ton of opportunities, and only converts on them at a league average rate. They have, however, been solid defensively and will limit the number of looks the Hounds get on net. You would expect a tight, competitive, low-scoring affair, but its a derby and, as we all know, anything can happen when Harrisburg is in the house.
The last thing to touch on is the elephant in the room, the Penguins playoff game tonight. The Pens have the national broadcast game this evening that is advertised as an 8pm start. The national games build in a pre-game pad into that 8pm window, with the game not starting until something closer in 8:20. Hounds kick off at 7, and wrap up around 8:50. This is a big match and there are plenty of bars around the stadium to catch the Pens game. You’re looking at missing less than a period of the Pens to be at, and match a difference in one of the biggest Hounds’ contests of the season. Be there, get loud, and do your part.