The focus here at CHSSoccer.net for the past four months has pretty much been limited to our local professional club. And I think that’s pretty much as it should be. The Charleston Battery occupy the top spot in the Lowcountry soccer pyramid, draw the biggest crowds, yada yada yada.
Plus they’re pretty damned good for a USL PRO side.
But tonight marks the beginning of the 2013 college soccer season, and with it the focus of this site expands. We’ll continue to cover the Battery through the playoffs and routinely through their offseason, but as the professional calendar draws toward its dramatic conclusion, we’ll also be learning about and covering four different college programs: Women’s teams at the College of Charleston, Charleston Southern University and The Citadel, and the men’s team at CofC.
I was able to write a little bit about CSU and the two CofC teams back in March and April at the tail end of the spring exhibition schedule, but the truth is that when it comes to covering the colleges, I’m basically where I was when it came to covering the Battery back in February. Ignorant. But the more I report on them, the more I’ll learn, and with any luck the coverage of our college teams will get better along the way.
I know that all soccer fans are not fans of all soccer, but I’ve also found that the more I look at anything, the more interesting it becomes. Here’s hoping that some of my Battery readers will find reasons to check in on Ralph Lundy’s Cougars or Eric Terrill’s Bucs — and vice versa.
Anyway, lots to talk about today. Moving on…
The big event tonight is the Silver Cup match between Charleston Southern (Big South) and CofC (Colonial Athletic Association) at Patriots Point at 7 p.m. It’s a rematch of a March 28 spring game that Christian Michner’s Cougars won 2-1.
Tennessee transfer Kelsey McQuaid and returning Cougars Francesca Kentimenos, Sarah Cardamone, and Anna Helm figured prominently in the victory. All but Helm, who left the team this summer, should be factors tonight. Buccaneers senior forward Toni Lashley stood out in the spring match, and will key the CSU attack in a year that will likely be defined by how rapidly Terrill’s promising freshman class develops.
The match is the first to count in the standings for both teams this season, with more stacked up right behind them next week. CSU hosts Francis Marion on Monday and Canisius next Friday. The College hosts North Florida on Sunday, and then flies to Champaign to take on the University of Illinois a week from today.
Meanwhile, The Citadel (Southern Conference) begins its 2013 season on the road. They face the University of Maryland tonight, drive down to Annapolis to play Navy on Sunday, and then play their home-opener on Friday, Aug. 30, against Jacksonville State.
Ralph Lundy’s men finish their short preseason Saturday night at Patriots Point when the Cougars host East Tennessee. They’ll open their regular season next Friday when they host the powerhouse Akron Zips in the Nike/Aaron Olitsky Memorial Classic at Patriots Point.
Battery v. Blues Saturday night
The standard worry with a USL PRO team is fatigue. Too many matches, too many injuries, not enough training and recovery time. Not so this week.
Charleston heads into Saturday night’s first-round playoff showdown with Los Angeles coming off eight days of rest and training. They’re in good shape. And with their mixture of youth and experience, plus 12 players who returned from the Battery’s 2012 championship roster, chances are pretty good that they’ll show up focused and aggressive.
Everyone on the roster is available for selection, according to head athletic trainer Bobby Weisenberger, and club President Andrew Bell said the team stuck to its day-before-a-match routine and conducted an old-vs.-young scrimmage this morning.
The L.A. Blues made it safely across country and will train on Daniel Island this evening.
As for game day, Regiment President Mikey Buytas said the Battery’s official supporters group will be tailgating from 5 p.m., but wasn’t yet sure what they’d be grilling.
I’m going to be out-of-town tomorrow morning and will miss the Blackbaud parking lot pre-funk, but just a reminder for you Battery fans who’ve been reading this site all season without dropping in at the tailgate (and my site analytics tell me you’re out there). Drop by the tailgate! Introduce yourself! Ask for Mikey or Phil or Bobbi or Jim or Kim or Scott or Mischelle or John or Erik or Ben… or hell, just ask for Janet. She’ll get you a beer from the community cooler and talk your ear off if you’re not careful.
Speaking of Mikey Buytas
Everyone’s favorite retired Air Force combat photographer isn’t just the president of The Regiment, he’s also the founding president of the American Outlaws Charleston Chapter. The national office announced Charleston as the 92nd official chapter on Thursday.
Welcome AO official chapter #92 – AO Charleston, SC. Join them in N. Chucktown at Madra Rua Pub for games…. http://t.co/WT2218jOkW
— The American Outlaws (@AmericanOutlaws) August 22, 2013
“Being one of the first 100 chapters is exciting,” Buytas said. “We have a few ideas to help boost interest here in Charleston, especially leading up to the World Cup. Now that we are official, spreading the word to the local soccer community and getting more people is high on our list. It’s always better to watch a match with a couple dozen of your new friends!
“With the World Cup coming and the ever increasing popularity of soccer here in the States, I think it is possible we’ll see the number of Chapters increase and wouldn’t be surprised to see chapters pop up overseas especially where there are large concentrations of Americans.
The group added 65 new Facebook followers within hours of the announcement, and if nothing else, official status is likely to boost the number of visitors and new arrivals who join the group for matches — thanks to people looking it up via the national website while vacationing in the Lowcountry.
If you’re interested in joining, sign up via the American Outlaws membership page and select Charleston as your affiliated chapter.
EPL this week
It’s a busy fixture list this weekend, so I’m just focusing on the groups that I know of locally and where they’ll be.
Fulham hosts Arsenal in the dreaded 7:45 match Saturday morning. Last week the gang from Charsenal met at Local 616, but they’ll be gathering for this one at Madra Rua. At 10 a.m., if you’re a lonely West Ham fan and you’re looking to watch their 10 a.m. match against Newcastle with another member of the family, I guess you could always call Gary Perridge and ask him where he’s going to be. Saturday wraps up with Aston Villa vs. Liverpool at 12:30, and the Liverputlians will be gathering, as always, at Madra Rua.
On Sunday, Tottenham Hotspur hosts Swansea City at 11. The S.C. Spurs will be sponsoring watch parties at five different locations around the state. For Charleston this week it’s… Madra Rua Park Circle. And then on Monday afternoon, the game of the week is Manchester United vs. Chelsea. Local Man U fans met at Mercury Bar on Upper King Street last week. As for Chelsea, despite there being a lot of Chelsea fans here, I’ve yet to find anything resembling a quasi-formal fan group. So until we hear otherwise, round up the usual suspects.
If you’re a supporter of an EPL club not listed here, please leave a comment on this post so we can continue our mission of matchmatching teams, fans and bars.
MLS Game of the Week
Our domestic product doesn’t get a lot of respect from the Eurosnobs, but it’s hard to ignore a clash between the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers. They meet Sunday night at 10 p.m. in Seattle in a match with enormous playoff and Cascadia Cup implications, and the match will be televised on ESPN2.
For those of you who don’t know me, I think this is kind of a big deal.
If you’ve been to a Charleston Battery match this season, you’ve probably seen me. I’m the big old gray-haired dude that hangs out on the sideline in the early minutes of matches trying to take pictures for this site… with the most pathetic little camera outfit imaginable.
Why is it so bad? Because I’m a writer, not a photographer, and I originally bought my old used Nikon with the crappy stock 18-55mm zoom lens because I was familiar with it and the outfit was up to the task of capturing pictures of the people I wrote about.
And then I took up writing about soccer.
Trying to shoot soccer with a 55mm zoom set to manual focus is sort of like trying to spear fish from a boat in the open ocean… with a lawn dart. You can’t really see what you’re looking for, and everything is too far away. But since I’m famously cheap, I did it for about seven months… until Monday, when a plastic piece inside the lens broke off inside the mount, and I officially had enough.
So the next day I ordered an actual zoom lens — used, of course, because I’m still cheap — and it arrived Thursday. Which means that when I show up to shoot tonight’s match at Patriots Point, for the first time this year I won’t feel like the dude who shows up at Sturgis on a mo-ped.
It’s a brave new world.
TOP IMAGE: The College of Charleston women break training on Wednesday. Dan Conover photo.