College of Charleston Sophomore Francesca Kentimenos scored off a long free kick and Tennessee transfer Kelsey McQuaid scored her first goal as a Cougar as the college defeated a rebuilding CSU team 2-1 at Patriots Point.
After Kentimenos’ blast opened the scoring, the Buccaneers pulled themselves back into contention on a goal that appeared to be scored by freshman forward Chelsea Frankeney of Wilmington (Spring rosters don’t always correspond to the numbers the players actually wear, and there was no scoreboard, game clock or stadium announcer).
The game winner began with McQuaid holding up the ball with a bit of foot skill before passing to defender Anna Helm, who had moved up to support the attack. Though thwarted, Helm’s run won the Cougars a corner kick. The resulting cross into the box produced a mad scramble, and several seconds later the ball popped out near the top of the penalty area, where McQuaid stepped up to volley it home.
The second half saw plenty of action, with the Cougars typically controlling possession and the Buccaneers generating threats off long passes, interceptions and sheer tenacity, particularly by forward Toni Lashley, a rising senior. Yet despite multiple shots by both squads, the defenses remained intact throughout the final 45.
College of Charleston Coach Christian Michner dubbed the match “pretty ugly,” despite the Cougars ability to control possession for most of the night.
“In a spring game you’re putting players all around the field in different spots and looking to see where players can succeed and where maybe it’s not their best fit. And tonight we answered some of those questions, which was good,” Michner said.
“I think we know that we have players that can play in the attacking end of the field and do a great job. I think we still, from a defensive perspective, are still trying to answer questions across the back, frankly. We had some good play from our midfielders and (forwards), but altogether we weren’t sharp enough technically The speed of play needed to be a little bit faster here, the movement wasn’t super dynamic.”
In addition to her set-piece goal, Kentimenos appeared calm and quick on the ball all night, organizing attacks and orchestrating the Cougars’ midfield flow. But her coach is pushing for more. “I think Francesca did a pretty good job when we had the ball,” Michner said. “She still has a little bit of work to do when the ball turns over and what her defensive responsibilities are.”
The coach also singled out sophomore forward Sarah Cardamone for praise. “(Sara) always gives us an amazing effort. She’s sort of our engine. I think those two did a really good job for us, and we’ll lean on them going into the fall.”
CSU Coach Eric Terrill’s spring goals arise from different team needs.
“We’re in a bit of a rebuilding right now and so we’re really on trying to figure out what individuals are going to be able to make an impact,” Terrill said. “We’re really young. We only had three seniors this year, we only have three seniors next year.
“I think we have a good freshman class coming in next year who I hope can step in and make an impact… but tonight I think our three upcoming seniors did a great job. Allie (forward Allison Lewis) played center back for us — never played center back. (Defender) Tori Wright tore her ACL so we’re thin at the position. (Lewis) played there, I thought she did a great job. No. 16, Chloe Urig (formerly of Wando High School), in the center midfield, she really kinda held us together defensively, won a lot of balls. And of course Toni (Lashley) up top. She did a lot of stuff by herself. Created a lot of things that weren’t there, things like that.
“The one emphasis tonight was to try to keep the ball on the floor, try to keep a little bit more possession, which I don’t know that we had 100 percent success at. College of Charleston is really great. That’s what they do. We’re much more direct than they are. But I wanted to see if we could keep the ball on the floor a little bit more. At times we looked OK, but at times we wanted to play the ball forward too quickly.”
The coach thinks part of the team’s problem in possession is simply how good Lashley has become as an attacker. Other players see her in space and the temptation to push ahead is too great. “Toni, she’s like a piece of candy,” Terrill said. “You see her, she’s so quick, you just want to dish her right away.”
For Terrill, much of the spring season has been devoted to finding the leaders on this young team.
“I don’t feel like the team mentally was in a position for us to be successful last year,” he said, reflecting on the fall regular season. “I didn’t really realize it until the end of the year. So a lot of the things this spring we’ve done have been to get emotionally ready. We haven’t really done too much team tactics.
“I’ve got a lot of friends who coach, and they’ll tell you: If you’ve got good leadership, you’ll have a good team, no matter what kind of level of play you’ve got. So that was one of the emphasis: Can we be a better leadership team from top to bottom?”
CSU finishes its Spring slate on the road next week in the Upstate. The College of Charleston women travel to Georgia Southern on the 7th, play their final home match on April 14 against Georgia Southern, and then wrap up at Wake Forest on the 20th.
Top photo: College of Charleston Coach Christian Michner instructs his team at the half. Though the Cougars controlled the ball for much of the game, Michner was not satisfied with the squad’s ability to finish its opportunities.
All photos by Dan Conover.