GREENVILLE, S.C. - A bonafide Goal of the Season contender from Noah Pilato and a lockdown defensive performance saw Greenville Triumph SC win its third-straight game by a score of 1-0, as the South Carolina side beat Fort Lauderdale CF on Saturday night at Legacy Early College.
The best moment of the first half came for Greenville on 29 minutes. Full back Abdi Mohamed got forward and put a teasing cross into the box, which was flicked on by Carlos Gomez to Lachlan McLean. Sandwiched between defenders, McLean managed to poke the ball toward goal and watched as it bounced off the base of the post, allowing the Fort Lauderdale defense smothered it to safety.
As has been Triumph Head Coach John Harkes' strategy all season, Greenville grew into the game as the second half wore on. The Triumph's previous two matches were both 1-0 home wins courtesy of late goals, and Saturday's game held true to that trend.
You'd be hard pressed to find a sweeter strike than Pilato's 67th minute rocket that broke the deadlock. A Greenville corner was nodded down by Cesar Murillo and the ball bounced Pilato's way.
Pilato let the ball run across his body brilliantly before swinging his right foot at it. He connected with the ball perfectly, hitting a vicious half-volley that ricocheted off the top corner of the far post and in.
The result marks the third straight win for Triumph SC and the fourth straight shutout, an amazing run which has Greenville six points clear of Richmond Kickers at the top of the League One table.
With a lights-out defense in front of 2019 Goalkeeper of the Year Dallas Jaye and a versatile group of attacking players, what is perhaps most impressive about Triumph SC is the way the players have bought into Harkes' system and made it their identity.
Greenville is designed to keep things tight and efficiently take the chances that come their way, and thus far this season they have executed that plan to perfection.
Fort Lauderdale will be disappointed not to take a point from the match, but can't complain too much about their performance. For the most part, the Floridians were able to limit Triumph SC's opportunities and were only undone by a world-class strike from Pilato.
Fort Lauderdale now has two weeks off before hosting Chattanooga Red Wolves, while Greenville must travel north to play New England Revolution II on Wednesday before facing a tough test away to second-place Richmond Kickers next weekend.
Greenville Triumph SC: August 26 v. New England Revolution II (A)
Fort Lauderdale CF: September 5 v. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (H)