Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Preseason Powerhouse

With just over a month until the kickoff of the USL Pro season, the Charleston Battery are in fine preseason form, stringing together several convincing victories over their opponents.  Following their dramatic 2-1 coup over the Houston Dynamo in the final match of the Carolina Challenge Cup, Charleston are undefeated in preseason play.  Here are recaps of the fixtures so far:

College of Charleston 0-3 Charleston Battery

Dane Kelly only just missed the target in the opening stages of the match.  The Battery were in the driver's seat from the get-go and Quinton Griffith found the net midway through the first half with a rocket shot from a good ways out.  Ryan Richter and Dane Kelly combined just before the break to give the Black and Yellow a two goal advantage.  Pressing that advantage further, Richter and Kelly co-oped another goal as a fine run by Richter was neatly finished with headed goal by the Jamaican forward.

Clemson University 0-5 Charleston Battery

The Tigers were tied as the Battery overpowered Clemson, providing a goal-scoring clinic free of charge.  Ryan Richter sparked a run in the first half, allowing Jose "Chiva" Cuevas to tally first for Charleston.  A second half onslaught saw Austin Savage (a Clemson grad and former Palmetto FC Bantam), Battery vet and Columbia native Zach Prince, and trialists Gibson Bardsley find the net.  The final goal was earned by Jarad van Schaik, who netted a volleyed shot from a corner kick as the Lowcountry Boys dominated their northern neighbors.

Charleston Battery 4-1 Georgia Southern

Cuban newcomer, Evier Cordovez tapped home Charleston's first strike, assisted by van Schaik about ten minutes on.  Cuevas, who initiated the first goal poked in the second with some help from Zach Prince at the half hour mark.  Scoring an unlikely goal, Taylor Mueller found the net moments after when we whiffed a long ball down the field.  As the GS keeper moved the squelch the pass, a gust carried the ball just over his head in to the net.  Shortly after the break, the Battery put one in their own net, owing now thanks and blame to the blustery conditions on the pitch at Blackbaud.  An errant header from Cody Ellison snagged the breeze and sailed into the Charleston goal at 50 minutes.  Trialist Gibson Bardsley nabbed another Battery goal at 61 minutes with some excellent individual effort to finish the windy night's scoring.

Charleston Battery 2-1 Coastal Carolina

The Battery jumped ahead early as Jose Cuevas found the mark at 10 minutes, slotting home from a goal front scramble begun by Cordovez.  Charleston were content to absorb large amounts of pressure from the Chanticleers but protected the clean sheet till the break.  Dane Kelly was unlucky as his sprinting shot was muffled just before the half.  Refusing to bow out, Coastal's efforts were rewarded on the hour as Klasila was beaten by a powerful shot from close range.  Responding immediately, the Battery were able to stem the tide and restore their lead ten minutes later.  It was Cuevas again, who single handedly slipped his pursuers, passed to himself, and ignited the net, leaving Charleston a goal to the good.  Coastal Carolina proved a more determined foe than the Battery's previous college fixtures, but even on an off night, the boys got the right result.

Who's Next??

The Pride of the Lowcountry travel to Cary, NC to challenge the Carolina Railhawks Thursday at WakeMed Park.  The NASL season kicks off April 6 and the Railhawks have enjoyed a few good preseason results already.  In addition to facing Charleston twice in the coming weeks, Carolina have added a fixture with Mexican giants Pumas UNAM.  Similar to the Battery, the Railhawks preseason preparations involve ties with predominately local university squads.  Its safe to say the fans can expect a highly competitive match and even if the results don't matter, Carolina will be keen to continue to please the home crowd as the Railhawks look to be strong contender for the next MLS expansion team.

After the Railhawks, the Battery will host C of C and the Wilmington Hammerheads at Blackbaud.

Having reached the midpoint of our preseason fixtures, it looks to be another promising year for the Charleston Battery.  We have an unusual number of returning veterans and probably more fresh talent than will fit on the final roster.  Goals seem to be coming from everywhere but the man involved with nearly every one is Jose Cuevas.  I'm very excited about our Cuban acquisitions with Odisnel Cooper between the sticks, Evier Cordovez up front, and the magic of Mikhail Chang yet to be seen.  The international flavor of Charleston's lineup will also be peppered with the ridiculous speed and power of Quinton Griffith of Antigua.  I'm also pleased that we're drawing on local talent with the likes of Austin Savage (Palmetto FC Bantams) and Ralph Lundy Jr. (C of C).  And even though these preseason matches don't count, I'm already pumped for the regular season kickoff!!

(photo credit: Charleston Battery & Carolina Railhawk's facebook page)

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