Saturday, May 4, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers rallied for a thrilling 3-3 draw against the Charlotte Eagles on a brisk spring Saturday evening at City Stadium. The home side claimed an early advantage courtesy of goals by Brian Ownby and Stanley Nyazamba, only to concede a pair of tallies as Drew Yates and Stefan Smith leveled the score in the second half. Eagles midfielder Shaun Francis broke the deadlock in the 90th minute, only for Kickers defender Conor Shanosky to bury an equalizer with seconds remaining in stoppage time to salvage a point as both teams remained undefeated.
Despite the dramatic finish, the match got off to a slow start until the Eagles challenged Dykstra in the 13th minute. Midfielder Sam Asante sliced through the midfield and played a long ball to Ben Newman deep on the right flank. The Eagles defender served the ball to the far post to an awaiting Jorge Herrera but the Kickers goalkeeper easily collected his shot and started a break the other way, sending a pass to the midfield where Ownby collected the loose ball and carried it into Eagles territory. Beating his last defender, he faced goalkeeper Eric Reed one-on-one and calmly played a soft ball into the far right corner as the Eagles goalkeeper charged off his line to give the Kickers a 1-0 lead.
Fueled by his first goal, Ownby turned playmaker in the 34th minute when he battled for the ball at the top of the box. The heavily marked midfielder got was able to head the ball into the path of Nyazamba, who rushed into the left side of the penalty area and slotted a low ball inside the right post from 12 yards to send the Kickers into the locker room with a 2-0 advantage.
Following the restart, the Eagles cut the deficit in half when Francis received a long ball and slid it across the goal mouth, finding Yates at the left post who made no mistake from point blank range. With the Eagles gaining momentum, Dykstra weathered a barrage of shots, throwing his body into the line of fire but the Eagles persistence paid off in the 78th minute when a heroic save resulted in a Charlotte corner. Midfielder Mitch Waul delivered an inswinger into the mix, finding Smith who deftly played the ball over the goalkeeper’s fingertips and into the back of the net.
With less than five minutes remaining, the Kickers struck the crossbar through Mike Callahan and watched a dangerous free kick whistle just over the woodwork before Francis’ lofted ball from the top of the box skimmed just underneath the bar for what appeared certain to be the game-winner.
The Eagles celebrations were cut short in stoppage time when the Kickers capped the scoring with seconds left in regulation. Forward Casey Townsend flicked the ball on to Sascha Görres on the right flank who whipped the ball across the box to Nate Robinson on the left wing, only for the midfielder’s header to be cleared off the line for a corner. The Kickers wouldn’t be denied, though, as the corner curled into the crowded box and came to 17-year old Michael Seaton, who fired a shot that rebounded off the underside of the crossbar and fell to the feet of Shanosky, who tapped it over the line.
The Richmond Kickers return to City Stadium next Saturday, May 11 to host Antigua Barracuda FC at 7 p.m. The first 500 fans through the gate will receive a t-shirt, courtesy of Dr. Babik and tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.