Vermont visits, plus five other matches

Vermont visits, plus five other matches

The local college soccer weekend kicks off tonight — well, sort of — when Charleston Southern gets to Macon, Ga., and takes on Mercer College at 7 p.m. It’s the first of six matches for local teams this weekend — though only the College of Charleston men play at home.

That would be Friday night’s bout against the Vermont Catamounts. More on that shortly.

Women on the road

As for tonight’s Buccaneers v. Bears match, the A-Sun Conference video page says it’s going to have a live web stream, so if you’re looking to follow along, go here. It’s the first of two Georgia road games for the Buccaneers, who travel to Statesboro to play Georgia Southern on Sunday at 6 p.m. You can log in to watch that one through GS All Access and some company called Sidearm Sports for a one-day pass that sells for $5.95.

The College of Charleston women are also headed south. They’ll open their weekend Friday at 7 p.m. down in Auburn, Ala., before driving up to Athens, Ga., for a match against UGA on Sunday at 2 p.m. Auburn has a video page, but it’s not clear from their schedule whether you’ll be able to watch the Cougars live. It looks like it’s a premium video service, with a free audio component (well, free if you consider listening to the audio “free” if all you have to give the Tigers/War Eagle/Whatevers in exchange for the stream are the keys to all your social media accounts, apparently, forever). Georgia says it has a video page, but I can’t even get any significant info about your options there.

Meanwhile, Bob Winch’s Citadel Bulldogs travel in-state up to Clinton (that’s pronounced “CLI-nun” if you’re from someplace else) to take on the Presbyterian Blue Hose, which simply has to the absolute worst name ever bestowed on a women’s soccer team. The Big South network says it has video, but then the video package’s Live Events schedule page wouldn’t even load, so color me dubious.

Charleston Game of the Week

Vermont_Catamounts.svgThey’ve been playing soccer at the University of Vermont for 50 years now, and apparently they’re getting pretty good at it.

The undefeated Catamounts will arrive in Charleston (7 p.m. Patriots Point, $5 for adults, $3 children) for the first-ever meeting of the two programs carrying a 3-0-2 record, with wins at Niagara plus two at home against Colgate and Massachusetts. They also tied Buffalo at Buffalo and Central Connecticut at their home field in Burlington. They have a 6-3 goal ratio.

Vermont’s senior defender Scott Kisling won MVP of the school’s Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Windjammer Classic tournament last week, and freshman forward Brian Wright won America East Rookie of the Week on Monday.

They’ll take the day off after Friday’s match, then take on Furman in Greenville.

Meanwhile, the story of the CofC season thus far can be summed up in two words: Ambition and offense. Ralph Lundy Jr.‘s Cougars opened the 2013 by inviting No. 8 Akron and No. 27 Xavier to Patriots Point for the school’s Nike/Aaron Olitsky Memorial Classic, and then went up the road to play in-state power Furman. Result: The Zips kept a clean sheet and scored twice, the Cougars choked out the Musketeers 1-0, and the Purple Paladins found an overtime goal to win at home on Saturday.

That’s a tough opening schedule, and the Cougars can feel pretty good about holding those three schools to a combined three goals. But that one goal scored in three matches? You know they’ll want to break that open. Soon.

The Cougars slow start on offense is likely related to absences in the attacking half of the lineup. Transfer forward Jake Currie of Sheffield, England, has been in limbo while the NCAA sorts through arcane eligibility rules related to him attending a plumbing school in the UK, and Trinidadian freshman striker Adan Noel pulled up with a hamstring injury before the Xavier match.

Xavier Rajpaul

Xavier Rajpaul

In their absence, diminutive freshman Xavier “Xavi” Rajpaul from Port of Spain, Trinidad, has shouldered much of the offensive burden. He has the team’s only goal so far, and led the team in shots at Furman.

Rajpaul isn’t the only freshman contributing so far. Lundy has nine first-year players on the roster, and Ike Crook of Federal Way, Washington, has joined three stars of the 2013 Wando High School team — defender Brock King and midfielders Christian Jablonski and Erik Clark — in logging significant minutes. Junior Tanner Clay and senior Tam McGowan have been stalwarts along the back line, and sophomore outside midfielder Adam Purvis turned in a great performance last week.

The Xavier win was welcome, but costly. Senior goalkeeper Kees Heemskerk, a pre-season All Conference selection and a product of the famed Ajax academy system in Amsterdam, landed on the head of a Musketeer and injured his back. He’s been listed as day-to-day since, and Greenville sophomore Alex Young got his first start at Furman last weekend. Young logged valuable game-minutes in the spring while Heemskerk rehabbed from knee surgery, and seems to be a quality option in goal if the Cougars need to rest their senior.

Jake Currie

Jake Currie

The good news for the Vermont match? Currie has been cleared to play, and should see his first minutes as a Cougar. The not-so-good news? Neither Heemskerk nor Noel is ready to return to the lineup this week, said Troy Lesesne, the Cougars’ assistant coach. Both look like they’ll be ready to go next week, he said.

Back in the preseason, Lundy described Currie as a smart hold-up player. Though he’s not a physically imposing center forward like some other Cougars who have filled that role, his coach says Currie is smart, calm on the ball and distributes well.

3 P.M UPDATE: Here’s a link to Nick Vlattas’ preview of Friday night’s match. It includes this tidbit: 

Friday will be Youth Soccer Night and anyone in a youth soccer jersey will receive a free ticket at the box office.

CofC Student shuttles will pick students up from the Stern Center and provided transportation to and from Patriots Point. Cougar Nation shirts will be given to the first 100 students in attendance

We’ll be covering the Vermont match live on Friday night, then rounding-up the weekend’s action for your Monday reading pleasure.

TOP IMAGE: Freshman Christian Jablonski, one of three seniors from last season’s Wando High School squad to pick the Cougars this year, runs down a ball against Xavier. Kim Morgan Gregory photo.