CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Chaos will play its final game of the regular season against the Carolina Dynamo at 7:30 tonight at Schoenbaum Stadium.The Chaos (5-6-2) sit in second place of the South Atlantic Division of the Premier Development League with 17 points. The Dynamo (6-1-3) continues to pace the division with 21 points and a playoff spot nearly locked up.West Virginia's playoff hopes, however, lay heavily in the hands of the third-place South Carolina Bantams (5-5-1), who have 16 points and three games remaining on their schedule, and the fourth-place Virginia Beach Piranhas (4-4-2), who have 14 points and four games remaining.The top two teams in the division will earn playoff spots, which means after tonight's game the Chaos must wait patiently while the Piranhas and Bantams determine its fate, the price paid for playing through the schedule so quickly."I wish we didn't play so many games in such a small time frame," said Chaos first-year player-coach Petsa Ivanovic. "I wish the officials would consult the coaches before making the schedules, but they don't. They go by their own opinions."Due in part to a rescheduling conflict with the Southern West Virginia King's Warriors, the Chaos ended up playing four games in an eight-day stretch from June 21-28."[During the stretch] we made it home at midnight, and then had to go out and play the next day," said Ivanovic. "We lost some games we shouldn't have, and games where we were in control [because] we just ran out of energy."The Chaos will reach 20 points and pad its lead in the race for the final playoff spot with a win against the Dynamo tonight, a feat more easily said than done.
Carolina holds the series edge this season - defeating the Chaos 2-1 June 11 at Schoenbaum and 3-0 last Saturday in Greensboro, N.C. - but Ivanovic says his team is confident it can win tonight."We were up against them 1-0 [in the first game]," Ivanovic explained. "They managed to win 2-1 on our defensive mistakes - a hole in the defense and an own goal, [so] it's not that they're a better team than us."Chaos attacker James Pucci, a rising junior at Davis & Elkins College, will look to play a major role if West Virginia can steal a final victory tonight. Pucci has either scored or assisted the last six Chaos goals dating back to June 9 and leads the South Atlantic Division in points (22) and goals (10)."Pucci is the only real striker we have," said Ivanovic, "He is a great player and working really hard every game."The Chaos will be expecting an unusually large crowd tonight, with about 150 Chaos youth club team players and 45 participants in this week's Chaos youth soccer camp expected to attend in addition to the regular fans. With the West Virginia Power still out of town, that number may be even higher.Ivanovic hopes both the large crowd and playing at home will help the Chaos close the regular season by avenging the two losses to Carolina this year with the first win over the Dynamo in team history."It will be a good match for sure," said Ivanovic. "All the guys are excited and ready. Tonight is payback."