Set-piece goals lift SC past Capital
More often than not, when two soccer teams appear to be evenly matched, the result comes down to which team can make fewer mistakes and take advantage of its opportunities.
That was certainly the case between South Charleston and Capital on Wednesday as the Black Eagles, ranked No. 8 in Class AAA this week, defeated the visiting Cougars 3-0.
Capital coach Bradford Clark said during the run of play he thought his team played extremely well, but the Cougars showed a weakness defending the set pieces that ultimately cost them.
"South Charleston made the most of their opportunities and we didn't," he said. "They scored on three set pieces. What we're doing when we are playing isn't bad. The set pieces - it's something that is hurting us. That's what we're going to work on in practice."
The two teams played an even game through most of the first half with Capital dominating the early possession and South Charleston (9-3-1) taking charge closer to the break.
The Black Eagles were finally able to penetrate the Cougar defense in the 33rd minute when Isaac Cosby found Kewsi Wilkerson in the penalty area with a throw in. Wilkerson was able to get his head on the ball and beat goalkeeper Nathan Altman to open the scoring.
SC did not waste any time on its second goal. Four minutes after the first goal, SC's Chris Brown struck a corner kick from the right side that Rashad Kincaid was able to poke through several Capital defenders to give the Black Eagles a 2-0 lead just before the half.
"If it stays 0-0 at the half anything can happen," South Charleston coach Ronnie Means said. "You never know how you're going to start a second half, and sometimes we've had trouble getting out of the gates in the second half. We got the two goals back-to-back and that gave us a little comfort. When we get goals like that we get fired up and start playing a little better."
In the second half the teams again appeared even in possession with both goalkeepers having to make saves. Capital had several more opportunities to score but could not get out of its own way with offsides calls going against the Cougars several times deep in South Charleston's half of the field.
The Black Eagles put the finishing touches on the contest in the 73rd minute when Brown, who earlier had the assist from the corner on Kincaid's goal, lined up to take a free kick from just outside the penalty area on the right side.
After a short approach, Brown struck the ball hard but kept it low, sneaking it through the Capital defense and beating Altman for SC's third goal.
Means said set pieces have been a big part of South Charleston's arsenal this season and Wednesday's game against Capital showcased what they can do.
"We've had a lot of goals that way this season," he said. "It's something we started working on early in the season and I think we've got some good movement and that creates opportunities."
As good as SC was able to perform on the offensive end, its defense was able to withstand the several pushes from the Cougar offense, and goalkeeper Hunter Moles helped with six saves to keep the shutout intact.
South Charleston got solid contributions from seniors Moles, Cosby, Kincaid and Brown in addition to underclassmen such as Wilkerson and Justin Bumgarner. Means said his team took some lumps early in the season but as September starts to turn to October the Black Eagles have come together as a team.
"These guys, some of them have been playing for me since ninth grade and a couple of them transferred in, they were from South Charleston but went to a Christian school - the Cosby brothers," Means said. "Our first game against George Washington was our roughest outing. We've moved some guys around since that time and we've got some chemistry. Everybody wants to win and is buying into the system. Even if they come off the bench, the common goal is to keep winning."
Reach Tom Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org.