Charleston Southern Coach Eric Terrill makes no excuses for a 2012 team that he acknowledges wasn’t very good. But after battling the College of Charleston women into a second overtime and defeating Francis Marion University on Monday in a match at Blackbaud Stadium that counts as CSU’s home-opener, Terrill is due a little optimism.
The Bucs are counting on an infusion of young players to lift their prospects, but more importantly, they’re counting on senior forward Toni Lashley.
The 5-3 standout from Charlotte is typically the most instantly recognizable player on the pitch. Just look for the blur. She’s fast, slashing, skilled and commanding.
On Friday, C of C’s disciplined back line limited Lashley’s chances, yet she still found a way to feed the ball inside to strike partner Chelsea Phillips, a red-shirt sophomore from New Jersey, for the late equalizer. With her first assist of 2013 in the bag, Lashley scored her first goal of the fall campaign in her second match. Here’s Seth Montgomery, CSU’s assistant sports information director:
(Junior midfielder/defender) Emma Faubert launched the ball from the middle of the field, clearing the backline to Lashley, who had a defender on her back as she chased down the ball. Lashley and (sophomore goalkeeper Taylor) O’Berry reached it at the same time and the foot of the CSU senior won the contest and slid the ball into the lower left corner of the net for her first goal of the season.
Charleston Southern improves to 1-1-0 with the victory…
“I’m excited about it,” Terrill said. “This is a team that beat us 3-1 last year and to come back the next year and get a win in an unfamiliar stadium, I think shows how we are gelling together as a team. Coach Pitts always has his teams ready to go and they come out with a lot of energy. Even at the end of the game, the last 15 minutes after our goal, they played with a lot of energy and never gave up.”
Francis Marion challenged CSU goalkeeper Dana McLaughlin early and often, recording 18 shots overall in the game with 10 on target, but the freshman proved up to the task in recording 10 saves, including a crucial lift of a ball up and over the crossbar in the closing minutes of the second half to preserve her first collegiate shutout.
“Dana has been key for us in both games,” said Terrill on the play of his freshman keeper. “She has made some huge saves and she has been steady. She is a freshman and will only get better with more playing time. She made a few mistakes but was good overall tonight. She has been huge for us when it’s matters and been a rock back there.”
Go read the whole thing here.
BTW, for those of you keeping score at home, that’s 17 saves for the 5-10 McLaughlin in her first two college matches. That’s one hell of a start to an NCAA career. Keep an eye on this one.
Battery training, 2 men down
Meanwhile, back at Battery HQ, most of the Charleston men spent Tuesday morning running 6-v-6 matches. A couple spent the day on the sidelines, however.
Dane Kelly, the team’s 2013 Top Offensive Player, took a beating from the L.A. Blues’ enormous back line Saturday night, and was moving a little slowly under an ice pack on Tuesday. Defender Taylor Mueller was out with a knock picked up Monday.
“Dane is OK. Just being precautionary with him,” said Coach Mike Anhaeuser. “It’s right at the bottom of his calf, so he’s probably OK, but it’s tight and you get kicked in that drill so we kinda wanted to be safe, and he wanted to make sure. He’ll be out there tomorrow.
“Taylor unfortunately, he’s getting checked out right now. He got caught yesterday while we were just doing a crossing drill, and he got his leg planted when he was trying to plant for a finish. Hopefully everything is OK, but he had to go to the doctor, so we’ll see.”
Mueller subbed into Saturday’s win and helped the Battery choke down the Blues’ late threat.
“Everybody else looked good,” Anhaeuser said. “I’ll tell you, everybody’s ready to go and raring to go.
The team will depart Charleston on Thursday morning and train at the Florida Citrus Bowl on that evening in advance of their Friday playoff date. Getting reacquainted with Orlando’s artificial turf will be a big part of Thursday’s agenda. But on Tuesday morning, Anhaeuser had some different things in mind.
“We played a little bit, played a little 6-v-6,” he said. “Wanted to (get it) a little tighter so there was more finishing. I just wanted the guys (to have) a little pressure. Yesterday we played in a smaller area, just to get pressure, because Orlando is going to pressure us. It’s a quick surface, and I really want to get us playing fast and playing sharp.
“It’s been really good for the last two days. And today they finished, and the goalies played fantastic today. Both keepers made great saves and all three teams were tight. I think it was 9 points 8 points 8 points, which is good competition. Just the battling going on. The competition.”
Wednesday’s training plan? “Take it easy, taper down, get out on the game field to do a little crossing and finishing, just to keep their focus up.”
The Orlando trip
So, first things first. The staff at Molly Darcy’s on East Bay Street near the Market will be hosting either their final or their penultimate Charleston Battery Watch Party of 2013 Friday night, with a kickoff scheduled for 7:30. If you’ve not been out to one of these events, let me heartily endorse them. It’s simply a lot more fun to watch the Battery with a group of fans and team employees than it is hunched in front of your computer by yourself. And there’s usually a drink special.
Gotta love those Battery drink specials.
Ironically, the pub’s big host, co-owner Tommy Snee, may not be there — because he’s one of several fans who are planning to make the run down to Orlando to cheer on our local side.
By my informal count, it looks like about 10 people are either committed to going or leaning that way. Some of us will be driving down Friday morning, spending the night and then coming home Saturday. Some have indicated that they’ll drive down, watch the match, and then red-eye it six hour back to Charleston Friday night.
If you’re a Battery fan who’d like to see the playoff match live, Mikey Buytas and the gang over at The Regiment are helping match-make the Charleston-to-Orlando carpool. You absolutely don’t have to be a member of the Regiment to catch a ride to Florida and back. Just plan on splitting gas and hotel costs.
BTW, Whitney Woods, the Battery’s marketing and communications director, is working to arrange free tickets for every Battery fan who plans on making the trip to The City Beautiful. And Battery fans will be tailgating with the multiple supporters groups that call Orlando home, starting at about 5 p.m.
It’s a big deal.
And here’s the other big thing: When we beat Orlando Friday to qualify for our second Championship match in as many years, it will be the first time the Battery has defeated the Lions at their home stadium.
Lots to celebrate.
Anyway, seriously: Make plans to make the trip, or make plans to make it down to Molly’s. This is a huge night.
You don’t know Zips
OK, so there’s one way you can get a hall pass for missing the Battery’s semifinal showdown. You could be heading out to Patriots Point to watch the College of Charleston men take on the No. 8 Akron Zips in their season-opener.
The match is part of the Nike/Aaron Olitsky Classic, which this year brings in Akron, Furman and Xavier for two nights of soccer on Friday and Sunday. A ticket to the event is $7 for adults, $5 for kids. And believe it or not, even this season-opener has serious post-season implications.
“Friday night we’re playing what many people think is one of the Top 3 programs in the country, year in and year out,” Cougars Coach Ralph Lundy Jr. said Monday after practice. “You look at every year of the top 20 draft (picks) in the country, probably three or more will be Akron players. But it’s not by chance. We do it by design.”
We’ll be covering the Akron match live. With only eight home matches on their schedule this season, it’s tough to justify missing this one. But with the Battery kicking off simultaneously, I’ve got to pick one. Fortunately, Cougars’ radio play-by-play caller, Battery intern and CHSSoccer.net contributor Dane Arlauckas has agreed to write our game story, and photographer Kim Morgan Gregory will be working the sidelines.
Meanwhile, Battery and Liverpool SC reporter John Ace will be working from home in conjunction with me in Orlando to cover the USL PRO semifinals. It’s a big night of Charleston soccer — and if you’d like to be one of the local sponsors who helps us cover the cost of all this by purchasing an ad on the site this week, why not shoot me an email at email@example.com?
TOP IMAGE: Toni Lashley takes it to Francis Marion University (CSU photo); Battery forward Dane Kelly is dinged up but should be ready by Friday, and Ralph Lundy prepares to break the seal on the 2013 Cougars’ season. Dan Conover photos.