Monday, April 9, 2012

Battery Kicks Richmond 2-1 in Season Opener

The Charleston Battery started the USLPRO 2012 season with a bang, downing the Richmond Kickers in the inaugural edition of the Pioneer Cup.  Both teams are celebrating twenty years of football this season and to mark the anniversaries, the Battery and the Kickers donned retro jersey's reminiscent of their first ever tangle two decades ago.  Marking the long-standing rivalry between two of the oldest soccer clubs in continuous operation in the US, the Pioneer Cup is a home-and-away series celebrating the history of the Kickers and Battery.  The winner will claim the fan trophy, but bragging rights are definitely the prize of the tournament.  Winning 2-1, the Battery repeated the scoreline of their first encounter with the Kickers twenty years ago at Stoney Field in Charleston.

Entertaining a crowd of over 4,000, the game was worthy of its billing and made for a fantastic season opener.  It was an even contest between the two in the first half, but the Battery nudged ahead at forty one minutes.  Charleston's John Wilson threaded through the Richmond defense and found himself deep in Kicker's territory.  Crossing into the box, the defender's ball was headed home by Battery newcomer Jose Cuevas.  The lead was short-lived however, as Richmond found an equalizer just before the break.  Matt Delicate, one of the league's most talented frontmen, set up Stanley Nyazamba who curled home a shot from just inside the box.  

Wilson shreds the Richmond defense
The second half was end to end stuff as both sides fought for pride and points.  Charleston regained their lead at seventy-seven minutes.  It was Cuevas again who found the net, having volleyed a raging cross from Bundu in the corner.  Once again, Richmond pressed hard for the equalizing goal but the Charleston back line stood firm and the Kickers were nearly punished for their aggressiveness.  Nicki Patterson managed a late drive from a distance of thirty yards but Richmond GK Pascale recovered to keep Charleston at bay.  

Jose Cuevas was unquestionably the man of the match and his double on the day was certainly a bright start to his professional career.  The Battery defense also did a fine job of standing up the Kicker's attack.  Charleston looked sharp in the tie, earning points in a difficult road game.  The win was not only a fine kick off to the  20th anniversary season, but also a signal of intent to the rest of the league.  The Battery will look to sweep the series against the Kickers Saturday in their home opener at Blackbaud.

Oh yeah, here are highlights from the match!

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