CSU’s scoreless draw only ‘bright’ spot of the weekend
Here’s the gist of this weekend in Charleston collegiate soccer, expressed in two numbers:
Sixteen, and 2.
Sixteen is the number of goals hung on The Citadel, Charleston Southern and the men’s and women’s teams from the College of Charleston between Thursday and Sunday. Two is the number of goals our people put up: a penalty kick at Georgia by CofC senior McCallie Jones on Sunday, and the sixth goal of 2013 for the unstoppable Mariana Garcia, The Citadel’s senior striker, knocked down on Friday during the Bulldog’s 1-2 Friday loss to a team of women called the Blue Hose.
So it should come as no surprise that those numbers produced these numbers: 0 (wins), 5 (losses) and 1 (draw).
Which makes this weekend’s Charleston Collegiate Player of the Week a really easy call: Her name is Dana McLaughlin, she’s a bad-ass freshman goalkeeper for Charleston Southern University, and she’s probably the main reason our Charleston teams didn’t finish the week with six losses.
With the Buccaneers struggling to generate any offensive punch behind Eric Terrill’s talented three-woman striker rotation, it fell to McLaughlin and the defense to dig their fingernails into the Statesboro dirt and hang on for the draw. Despite boasting dynamic forwards Toni Lashley and Chelsea Phillips, with clever Chelsea Frankeney coming off the bench, the Bucs had all the kick of a two-legged mule Sunday, getting out-shot 18-3 by the Eagles.
McLaughlin earned eight saves on the evening, and booked her second clean sheet as a college keeper.
But as ugly as the 4-0 score down in Macon was on Thursday, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention CSU goalkeeper Caitlin Cody, a 6-1 junior from Knoxville who lead Division 1 with 167 saves in 2012. With the Mercer Bears outshooting the Bucs 29-9, Cody had her hands full — literally — in her first 2013 start. Yet Cody still managed to record 13 saves on 17 shots. Sounds like it was one hell of a performance.
The Bucs host USC-Upstate Friday at 4 p.m.
Seriously, did I mention they’re called the Blue Hose?
Bob Winch’s Citadel Bulldogs went up to Clinton on Friday and took Presbyterian into double overtime before surrendering the game winner on a penalty kick. A penalty kick!
The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 2-3-1, but this is a tough bunch. They’ll be back at home at Washington Light Infantry Field on the back side of the Citadel campus on Wednesday at 4 p.m. for a showdown with Winthrop. If you can get free, it’s worth dropping by just to see if Garcia can stay on this hot-streak she’s riding.
Meanwhile, down in Athens…
Look, Christian Michner isn’t anybody’s fool. He knew back in mid-summer that his non-conference schedule looked like a roadtrip through Hell. Go up north, take on DePaul and Illinois. Head down south, go toe-to-toe with SEC powers Auburn and Georgia. Not exactly Sunday in the park — unless you enjoy picnicking with Freddie Krueger.
Here’s the calculated risk for an ambitious mid-major program like Michner’s 2-6-0 Cougars: A tough non-conference road schedule isn’t likely to produce a lot of wins, but it improves your RPI, might just produce an upset, and could always expose your program to potential recruits in other markets. At the very least, you hope your players come out of their trial-by-fire tougher than the schools that stock up on creampuffs. But there’s always the risk that instead of being hardened by adversity, a team can simply melt.
The Cougars lost 5-1 today at Georgia, two nights after being barbecued 3-0 at Aurburn. Michner found some silver linings in Athens, but he’s no mind-reader. The only way to tell whether the Cougars have been strengthened by their brutal schedule will be in watching their play heading into the Colonial Athletic Association conference schedule, which begins at Patriots Point against Northeastern on Sept. 27.
Between now and then, they’ve got one more road match — at UNC Charlotte, on Friday night.
For the record, my bet is they’ll be better for all this. But nobody ever really knows these things.
And then there’s Vermont
So this is the thing that struck me about the Vermont Catamounts on Friday night: When the public address announcer called out the name of each Catamounts’ starter, the reserve players on the touchline would give each one exactly two claps (“At forward, Charlie Defeo…” clap-clap).
Well, except there was one guy in the XI who got no claps. Don’t ask me why. It’s a mystery.
And then, when the National Anthem was over, and the Cougars walked over to their coach for final instructions? The Vermonters ran back to the sideline like they’d been guzzling pints of Five-Hour Energy and just sorta… climbed all over each other. Slapping five, jumping up and down, totally geeked-out and jacked up.
That’s pretty much the way they played the entire first half — like they’d dusted their shorts with cayenne pepper. They should have been up by no fewer than two goals at the half, and it’s a testament to Ralph Lundy Jr.’s halftime-adjustment skills that the Cougars returned for the second 45 and pretty much took the Vermonters out of their groove for the next 27 minutes.
Like Michner’s Cougars, Lundy’s Cougars play a wicked non-conference schedule, so much so that Vermont look winnable by comparison. After all, the Cougars beat No. 27 Xavier, and hung with No. 8 Akron. And they follow up their Vermont home date with a West Coast road trip to Stanford on Friday and UC-Berkeley on Sunday.
But for what it’s worth, I thought Vermont looked tougher than Xavier.
This is a building year for the College, and there are plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about the future of this year’s freshman class. But if the College returns from the Pacific Coast next week with a 1-5 record, don’t judge the present too harshly. Like their female counterparts, the real value of the Cougars’ tough non-conference calendar will be determined in CAA play — which, for Lundy’s men, begins on Sept. 28 when UNC-Wilmington comes to Patriots Point.
TOP IMAGE: The Vermont Catamounts, who really need to cut down on the coffee, celebrate their back-breaking first goal against the College of Charleston on Friday night. CofC’s loss was one of five suffered by local college teams in this weekend’s schedule of games, but it was the only one that occurred at home.