By: Jon Kimble

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Riverhounds opened the 2017 season Saturday night earning a tough 3-3 draw by coming back three times against defending USL Champion New York at Highmark Stadium.

The Hounds battled deficits of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 to come back each time in a valiant effort in front of a near sellout crowd in Station Square.

The Hounds’ return to USL action did not get off to a great start when New York took the lead just 6 minutes into the contest. Florian Valo received a nice through pass from Aron Besuljevic and calmly finished past new Hounds keeper Kaesel Broome.

The frantic start to the game would continue as Corey Hertzog would tie the score at 1-1 in the 10th minute in truly spectacular fashion. The Hounds’ leading goal-scorer in 2016, started off the new campaign with a fantastic solo effort, looping the ball over a defender before slamming it in the back of the net.

The tie score would not last long though, as New York regained the lead from a beautiful curling shot from Vincent Bezecourt. The Red Bulls’ winger found himself in some space outside the Hounds’ box when he looped a shot over the outstretched arms of the Pittsburgh goalkeeper.

For the remainder of the first half, New York pressured hard for a third goal, but the Hounds held tough and were able to get the equalizer just before halftime from Kevin Kerr. After some nice one-touch passing between Hertzog and Jack Balchan, the longtime Hounds captain was able to finish nicely with his right foot to make it 2-2.

The game slowed down in the second half and the play was much more physical than the first, with five Riverhounds players being shown yellow cards for hard fouls. The physical play led to two penalty kicks in the second half, one for each team.

Bezecourt scored his second goal of the game from the spot to make 3-2 in the 76th minute, though that was cancelled out when the Hounds received a penalty kick only five minutes later.

Hertzog was denied on his kick from the spot, but pounced on the rebound and put it in for his second and the Hounds’ third, tying the game at 3-3.

There were many positives for Pittsburgh to take from the home opener; including many new players impressing in their debut.

Pittsburgh stays at home this week when they host FC Cincinnati Saturday at 5 p.m.

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