Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition, but for West Virginia it was business as usual as the Chaos posted a 1-0 win over the South Carolina United Bantams at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium to remain at the top of the table of the South Atlantic Division of the Premier Development League.
“I thought it was more one-sided than the score indicated,” said West Virginia coach Chris Grassie. “They [Bantams] were content to sit back and defend, trying to keep numbers behind the ball. It’s an admirable tactic when you have to play two matches in two days.”
The Chaos (5-2-1) dominated possession the entire match, building numerous offensive attacks out of the back, while the Bantams looked for opportunities to counter with their speedy forwards. However, neither team could muster a goal in the first half and entered halftime scoreless. That’s when strange things began to happen.
The Chaos’ Dan Stratford and Nic McDonald were cautioned prior to the start of the second half over the condition of Stratford’s uniform. Stratford’s socks were altered to relieve discomfort from blisters on his feet and the referee crew instructed him to change his socks so they were one solid color, as per the Laws Of The Game. As discussion ensued, cards were issued to both players for dissent and Stratford made the change.
Once the second half started, West Virginia found better scoring opportunities in its attacking third. In the 56th minute, Jeff Szabo placed a beautiful half-volley past Bantam keeper Robert Beebe to give West Virginia the lead.
“Szabo is a natural-born goal scorer,” added Grassie. “We just had to create more chances and hope one would pop. And it did.”
South Carolina (1-4-2) had numerous scoring opportunities in the second half to even the score, but couldn’t convert. The best opportunity came in the 82nd minute when Avery Ryan slipped past the Chaos back line to go one-vs.-one with keeper Sean Teepen, who made a superb stop with an outstretched arm to push the ball away and keep the Bantams off the board. As time ticked away, play continued to get more chippy between both teams as the Chaos’ Dion Peters and Bantam’s Alan Carr received red cards for violent conduct as both players took a swing at each other after a challenge for the ball.
West Virginia returns to action Friday hosting the River City Rovers at 7 p.m. at Marshall’s Veteran’s Memorial Soccer Complex in Huntington. It’s the first time the Chaos have played a home match outside the Charleston city limits.
“It’s going to be great,” stated Grassie. “Bob Gray [Marshall men’s soccer coach] is excited to have us play down there. I hope a lot of the West Virginia Rowdies kids will come out to support us.”