10:15 a.m. Editor’s note: Sorry about the delay on this report. My site host had a technical problem yesterday evening. Their updates last night included the word “fried.” And after functioning for a while this morning, Dreamhost fell apart again around 9 a.m. Here’s hoping that it’s back to stay, because we’ve got lots to talk about.–dc
A feisty and organized Cougars side packed it back on defense and brought the Charleston Battery’s six-match preseason winning streak to an end with a scoreless draw Tuesday afternoon at Patriots Point (Battery write-up here).
While the Battery’s unbeaten streak continues (the team hasn’t lost since facing the Chicago Fire on the second night of the Carolina Challenge Cup), the coaches’ reactions to this afternoon’s friendly made it clear that the outcome meant a great deal to the College of Charleston.
“I’m extremely happy,” said College of Charleston coach Ralph Lundy Jr. “Our first objective was to fight, and you saw them out there, they kept fighting and fighting. We had to defend a lot, and they did it with commitment, and they kept fighting. The Battery had run of play, obviously, but we did a great, great job. So the first thing you have to do is establish the right attitude, and the absolute team attitude of fight, fight, fight, don’t give up a goal, keep working, and they did it the whole match.”
And here’s Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser:
“You can look at it one of two ways. We had plenty of chances to maybe score one, but we didn’t create a lot of good ones, and that’s disappointing. You’ve got to give (the Cougars) a little credit, because they actually defended very well with the eight and the forward. I’ve got a few guys out there, seeing them in different positions and things, and you know, they didn’t look comfortable.
“I told the guys we tried to do a little too much and just didn’t get away with it. We’d lose balls in situations where… we could have kept them under pressure in their final third and we didn’t, and we just couldn’t hit that final ball.”
The Battery dominated possession and probed the Cougar defense repeatedly. Quinton Griffith kept the pressure on the College of Charleston throughout the first half from his spot at right wing, making runs, initiating attacks, taking shots and feeding his teammates. The Antiguan, who has notched two long-range screamers this preseason, almost found another in the opening minutes, but the shot deflected off a Cougar. John Wilson’s dribbling attack in the 14th minute produced two more blocked shots by Griffith, and a Griffith cross to Jose Cuevas resulted in the Cougars’ play of the match when keeper Kees Heemskerk made a quick-twitch, point-blank save on the resulting’ shot. Heemskerk would make another spectacular save late in the second half, when the big Dutchman dove to his right and extended his full frame to deny an excellent 30-yard strike by Zach Prince.
Cuevas got one more chance as the clock wound down to the final 10 seconds of the half (college rules — and yes, I had to ask). Last year’s league Rookie of the Year chested down a pass from Zach Prince on the left side of the penalty box and got off a volley shot, but the ball bounced off the near post. Dane Kelly would bounce another shot off the frame about 20 minutes into the second half.
Moments after Kelly’s near miss, Battery defender Colin Falvey appeared to “take the match by the scruff of the neck” when he launched a one-man raid up the center of the pitch, dribbling across midfield into the attacking third. The captain’s attack set up an opportunity for Prince, but the shot was off-target. Just minutes later, Falvey turned in the Battery’s best play of the match when a sudden attack by Cougar’s captain Daan Brinkman produced a shot in front of the goal mouth that seemed to catch keeper Odisnel Cooper flatfooted. Falvey managed a kick-save to backstop his young Cuban teammate, preserving the draw.
Lundy credited three of the Cougars’ international players in his post-game comments.
“I thought (team captain) Daan Brinkman was tremendous,” Lundy said. “Our center back, Tam McGowan, he kept organizing the team. Of course Kess (Heemskerk) made a great save, and Kees didn’t make one mistake. He’s an exceptional goalkeeper.” The coach also singled out the play of Washington midfielder Troy Peterson, a product of the Seattle Sounders youth academy.
“These are all underclassmen,” Lundy said. “Some of them never started a game last fall. Some of them didn’t hardly play last fall. So they really stepped up. And the Battery is a great team. They had lots of chances. But we did well.”
Lundy acknowledged that the game plan for Tuesday was to bunker down, but said that won’t be the approach during the rest of the spring schedule.
“We have three games left, and they will be against college teams and it will be much more wide open,” he said.
The Battery host the Wilmington Hammerheads Saturday, while Cougars will play their next home game of their spring exhibition season against Davidson on Saturday, April 6.
The Battery began the match with a lineup that looked something like a 4-1-4-1. Taylor Mueller, Colin Falvey, College of Charleston product Sean Ferguson and John Wilson made up the back line, with Amadou Sanyang in a defensive midfield role that connected to Quinton Griffith, Jarad van Schaik, Jose Cuevas and Zach Prince in the midfield. Austin Savage appeared to be deployed as a lone striker. The College of Charleston came out in what appeared to function as a 4-4-1-1, but kept men behind the ball all match, particularly in their own third.
Second half subs included Mike Azira, Cody Ellison (who appeared to be playing right back instead of his usual spot in central defense, Dane Kelly, Gibson Bardsley, newcomer Ben Fisk and Odisnel Cooper.
Lots of injuries to talk about:
Jose Cuevas came out of the match after his hamstring tightened up.
Evier Cordovez and Maikel Chang were both hurt during the Carolina Railhawks game last week, with Chang retweaking the same hamstring that had kept him out since the start of camp. Anhaeuser said he was being cautious with Cordovez this week, but that Chang was likely out for two weeks.
Nicki Paterson‘s injury, which has kept him out since the CCC, now has a name: Anhaeuser called it a strain to his hip flexor and groin. Paterson ran full-field sprints on the pitch today, and is coming along well according to his coach, who said there’s a chance he’ll play on Saturday against Wilmington.
Ralph Lundy III has a knee injury.
Could be goin under the knife friday freakn out a lil bit
— Ralph Lundy III (@Ralphinho19) March 20, 2013
Mark Wiltse, who has been out with an MCL strain for the past month, is getting “very close” to a return. “With that injury, unfortunately, the hardest thing is really passing with the inside of your inside foot. And it’s his right foot, so that’s the way he plays,” Anhaeuser said. “We’ve got to take our time and be sure he’s 100 percent healthy, because we have time. That’s the one thing I do have.”
CONTRACTS, A TRIALIST AND WILMINGTON
The Battery inserted trialist Ben Fisk into the match in the second half. He’s a 20-year-old Canadian midfielder and a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps Reserves.
Ryan Richter remains in Toronto after a “four-day trial” that began March 5. The buzz around his situation there is good, but all Anhaeuser could say was that “nothing’s done yet, but he’s in Toronto and looks like there’s a possibility that he could move to Toronto FC.”
J.C. Mack, a 2012 Battery player whose name appeared on the team’s web roster in Februrary, was released by the Tampa Bay Rowdies last week. Mack is “out of contract” in Charleston, Anhaeuser said, “and that’s why he was there.”
Anhaeuser on preparing for Saturday’s home friendly against Wilmington with so many of his players injured:
It stinks. This is where it gets worrying sometimes. You’re worrying about it, the guys are ready to play, but at the same time, you know hopefully that they’re professional and they give us the right information and (trainer Bobby Weisenberger) is working with them every day. We’re going to have a team. I might have to move a couple of guys around, but right now … our defense is healthy, our goalkeepers are healthy, and you gotta start there. I did protect a couple of guys today, even in the midfield.
We will be a few short, because I will be protective, because it’s going to be an intense game. When you play Wilmington, no matter friendly, non-friendly, scrimmage, exhibition, it’s going to be a big game.
More news, as it happens…