HARRISBURG, Pa -- A strong first half showing from Penn FC (9-12-8) was not enough for Rush Soccer’s First Team as first place FC Cincinnati (21-3-6) battled back to defeat Penn FC 2-1 at FNB Field on Saturday night.
After a back and forth battle from both teams, Paulo Junior’s right-footed strike in the 33rd minute put Penn FC in the lead.
Drawing a foul just outside the box, Richard Menjivar capitalized on the free kick opportunity. Menjivar sent in a floater from the right wing that found the head of Harri Hawkins who nudged it to Junior. The Brazilian winger tapped the ball right past the hands of goalkeeper Spencer Richey to put the Blue and White out in front.
A standout performance from goalkeeper Sean Lewis sparked a defensive hold that would last until the 68th minute.
However, Cincinnati was able to find their stride off the foot of Emmanuel Ledesma -- Cincinnati’s leading scorer -- who capitalized off a rebound from his own shot. Ledesma fired a shot in transition that forced a diving save from Lewis, but his save sent the ball bouncing back into the middle of the box allowing Ledesma to one time a second shot into the back of the net.
The goal ignited a spell of offensive energy for the Eastern Conference leaders as they capitalized again in the 84th minute. After a defensive deflection, Corben Bone rocketed a shot into the right corner to give the visitors a 2-1 advantage.
In the final minutes of the game, an offensive outburst from Penn FC nearly earned its own equalizer. A shot from Menjivar was on its way into the far right corner but was headed out at the line by Cincinnati’s Forrest Lasso, leaving Penn FC still down by one.
Penn FC returns to action Wednesday, Sept. 26 to take on third place Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the final matchup of the 2018 Keystone Derby presented by K&L Gates. Highmark and Penn FC will host a fireworks display following the conclusion of the match.
Kickoff at FNB Field is set for 6:30 p.m. Tickets to Wednesday’s match as well as the rest of the matches during The Homestretch are available at pennfc.com/tickets.