While he’s excited about having the former Owls’ leading scorer on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, forward Lukas Fernandes is still getting used to playing professional soccer after his first season, said head coach Bob Lilley.
“He’s still growing and trying to read the game, you know, at this level, making those decisions in the final third,” he added. “We can continue to improve on that, but he’s dangerous.”
The Riverhounds played their last game of the regular season on Oct. 3 against the Philadelphia Union II. The team is now preparing for the playoffs after finishing the season 11-4-1. Fernandes, a forward, scored two goals in 12 appearances and three starts this season.
Fernandes signed a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in December 2019, The Temple News reported.
Fernandes is focused on making the most of his opportunities when he’s on the field, he said.
“No matter what minute I come on, or no matter what match I start, I’m going to give hundred percent and do what I can to make an impact on the game,” Fernandes said. “I just love being out there and doing what I can for my team.”
Fernandes scored his first USL Championship goal in the 67th minute against Philadelphia Union II on July 18 at Subaru Park.
“I think being confident in my own abilities and doing the simple basic things right, you know,” Fernandes said. “I think being a professional, sometimes the pressure gets to your head a little bit more than it would in college because the stakes are higher.”
It was a “bit strange” scoring his first professional goal in front of zero fans, Fernandes added.
Fernandes is a good finisher, good off the dribble and he can get in behind defenders and take risks, Lilley said.
“We have a lot of optimism with Lukas [Fernandes] because he’s a high-energy guy,” Lilley added. “He’s quick, he’s dynamic and he’s still growing.”
During his four years at Temple, Fernandes played in 55 games, scored 10 goals and added nine assists, including six goals and four assists his junior season.
He was a large part of the team’s success in the 2019 season, as they earned their way to the semifinals of The American Athletic Conference before losing to Central Florida by a final score of 5-0.
“He represents our program exceptionally well,” said Temple’s head men’s soccer coach Brian Rowland. “He’s put in the time and energy to get better. So he’s an easy one for me to advocate for because he checks a lot of boxes.”
Fernandes has a “special trait and quality” for scoring goals and creating opportunities for his teammates, Rowland added.
Fernandes credited Rowland and the rest of the Temple coaching staff for having an important role in his development into a successful player, he said.
“The coaching staff is willing to help players develop and grow, so I’m very thankful for all of them there,” Fernandes added.
Lilley believes Fernandes is a strong leader on and off the field, he said.
“Guys love him in the locker room you know, he’s got a smile on his face, he works hard and we think he’s done well for his first year, getting the minutes he has,” Lilley added.