Saturday August 11, 2012
DAYTON, Ohio – The Charlotte Eagles were able to bounce back from two-goal deficit to tie the Dayton Dutch Lions 2-2 on Saturday night at Miami Valley South Stadium in the last home game of the Lions' season in front of a record crowd of 1,024 people. The point moved the Eagles into a tie for the sixth and final position in the USL PRO Playoffs entering the final week of the season.
Charlotte (10-9-3), which was coming off a 3-0 win against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Friday night, started strongly with a wide shot by Cheyne Roberts. The Dutch Lions (4-11-7) struck back in the 13th minute when Eli Garner’s shot went off the crossbar and Eric Kissinger’s rebound went high.
Dutch Lions’ goalie Matt Williams kept the match scoreless when a cross by Roberts found Mauricio Salles but Williams was able to get his gloves on the ball before Dayton defender Greg Preciado cleared the danger.
Garner was dangerous throughout the first half, and made a break for goal in the 34th minute, but Charlotte goalkeeper Clint Irwin was able to parry his shot and collect the rebound before a Dutch Lion could follow up. Two minutes later, though, the Eagles fouled the Lions 40 yards from goal. The free kick by Taylor Lord found Garner’s right foot as he volleyed the ball into the back of the net for the first goal of the game.
The Lions started the second half well as Gibson Bardsley came off the bench to score just two minutes after the break. After a run to the goal line, and a deflection off Irwin, a second shot went under the goalie’s legs from a tight angle on the left. Less than 10 minutes late, Bardsley had a hard shot right up the middle, but Irwin was able to catch the ball. Joel DeLass followed suit two minutes later, again to be denied.
Forward Chris Salvaggione almost put the Eagles on the board in the 68th minute with a header that just skimmed over the crossbar. In a counter, Bardsley won the ball near the halfway line and took it to the goal line to cross it to the middle, but DeLass was not able to connect and send an effort goalward.
In the 86th minute, Salvaggione did what his previous shot was not able to, as on a breakaway, his shot from the right side of the penalty area went to the left corner of the net under Williams' outstretched arms. As the end of the game approached, Charlotte pushed everyone forward and in stoppage time, the move paid off. With many bodies packed in the box, Williams was able to get a hand on an initial shot, but the defense was unable to clear and the ball fell to Josh Rife on the left side of the box, who drove a finish home, earning his side a point.
Although solid in first half of the game, Dutch Lions’ Coach Ivar van Dinteren expressed disappointment with the team’s resulting tie.
“When you are up by two and have many chances to make three, four, and you don’t finish, then performance is not good,” he said. “You know the old saying, ‘If you don’t score yourself, the other team will'.”
With the Dutch Lions finishing the season on a six-game undefeated streak at home, going 4-0-2, van Dinteren was pleased with the crowd that came to see the side close out its home schedule.
“Attendance was amazing,” he said. That’s what we want, of course. I have to thank all the fans for their continued support – it gives us wings, it’s what we need.”
He continued with nothing but praise for Joel DeLass, the team’s captain who played every minute of every game.
“Joel DeLass’ professionalism is incredible, and even with injury, he is always playing, always working.” van Dinteren said. “When you work as hard as he does, when you eat and drink what you’re supposed to, then your chance of staying fit and overcoming injuries is much greater. He is remarkable, a true professional.”
Dayton will hit the road for back-to-back games to finish the season, meeting Orlando City (17-1-5) August 17 at 7:30 at the Florida Citrus Bowl, and the Charleston Battery (12-10-1) the next night at 7:30 at Blackbaud Stadium. Charlotte will face a home-and-home series with the Wilmington Hammerheads as its battle for a place in the playoffs comes down to the final two games of the season.