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Riverhounds complete season with draw vs. Ottawa

| Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, 9:16 p.m.

Just when it looked like the Riverhounds' season would end with a whimper, they gave their fans one last reason to cheer.

Corey Hertzog converted a penalty kick in the 77th minute to snap a 283-minute scoreless streak for the team, and the Riverhounds battled back for a 1-1 draw against the Ottawa Fury to end the USL season Saturday at Highmark Stadium.

Kay Banjo did the work to earn the kick, dribbling into the left side of the Fury box and putting the ball between the legs of defender Eddie Edward before getting tripped and hitting the ground.

Hertzog scored the penalty to the right side of the net for his 14th goal of the season to lead the Riverhounds (8-12-12) for the second straight year. It was the 49th goal in seven seasons as a pro for the Penn State product.

“It's a good thing. ... There was nothing really to play for except the fans showing up, and we still wanted to win,” Hertzog said. “I just turned 27, so hopefully I've got 10, 12 more years. I want to score goals, but most importantly, I want to make playoffs. I'd give up goals to make playoffs, so hopefully next year.”

After finding the net, Hertzog did his best to end the season with a win. Only three minutes after scoring, he launched a 40-yard shot from the left sideline that found the net, but the ball already was ruled out of play. Moments later, he appeared to have scored from close range, only to have it correctly disallowed for offside.

“There's nobody rolling over, especially at the end of the season. When you're not a playoff team, you're still out there fighting for jobs next year. I think the guys showed a lot of character tonight,” Riverhounds goalie Matt Perrella said.

Perrella, who took over the starting job when Trey Mitchell and Keasel Broome both went down with injuries, continued his strong play but was beaten early when his marking let him down.

DuPuy put the Fury (8-10-14) on the board in the ninth minute by getting on the end of a free kick taken by Carl Howarth along the right sideline. The Riverhounds defense allowed the ball to bounce in their penalty area, and Fury defender Ramon Del Campo let the cross skip past him at the near post to give DuPuy the close-range finish from a central position.

“A lot of the goals since I've been in have been those crosses into the box,” Perrella said. “I don't know if it's missed marks or they're finding the target that well, but it's certainly been plays like that, and a lot of them from that same side.”

The draw ends and three-game losing streak for the Riverhounds — their only losing streak of the season — and left coach Dave Brandt reflecting on both positives and negatives from his first full season coaching pros after much success at the NCAA level.

“The team's been struggling since we gave up that goal to Rochester late (in a 1-1 draw Sept. 16.). It was really important that we fought. ... I thought it was a great second half,” Brandt said.

“We took two points off everybody in the league except for (first-place) Louisville City. I do think that's a step forward because it sure didn't happen last year, and it shows that we're right there, but the results aren't good enough.”

The Riverhounds missed the USL playoffs for second consecutive season, the first time that has occurred since 2008-09, but their 8-12-12 record in the first full season under Brandt is a improvement over last year's 6-17-7 mark.

Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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