Saturday, August 24, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers advanced to the semifinals of the USL PRO Playoffs, edging the Dayton Dutch Lions 1-0 on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 4,265 at City Stadium. Kickers midfielder Joseph Ngwenya gave the home side the advantage with a second-half goal and goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra posted three saves to preserve the shutout to keep the Kickers undefeated at City Stadium this season.
With a berth to the semifinals and home-field advantage on the line, the Kickers tested Dayton goalkeeper Matt Williams in the sixth minute when a free kick just from outside the penalty rebounded out to Luke Vercollone. The veteran midfielder flicked the ball back into the mix and found Alex Lee in the air, but his header soared just wide.
The Dutch Lions retaliated three minutes later when a long ball from their own half found Eli Garner in the Kickers' half. Heavily marked at the left touchline, the swift forward muscled his way to the box and turned his mark but hooked his shot just wide of the near post.
Just past the half-hour mark, Vercollone intercepted the ball in the midfield and played it wide to Brian Ownby. Racing down the left wing, he drove a low shot from point blank range but Dutch Lions defender Shintaro Harada rushed in for a last-second clearance over the end line.
A few moments later, Dutch Lions midfielder Joel DeLass battled for possession on the right flank, eluded his defender and rocketed a low shot to the near post but Dykstra smothered his attempt.
Minutes before the break, Kickers defender Sascha Görres whipped a cross into the box from deep on the left side, connecting with Matthew Delicate at the back post but his target man’s header glanced just wide to send the teams into the locker room scoreless.
Following the restart, Dayton attempted to break the deadlock when Garner exploded down the left wing with Kickers defenders in hot pursuit. Drawing them nearly to the endline, he sliced a curling cross into the box, finding Gibson Bardsley in prime position but the resulting shot was batted away by Dykstra.
The Kickers answered back in the 62nd minute when Ownby stole the ball in Dayton’s half and was off to the races down the right sideline. Drawing the keeper, and Dayton defenders, he slotted a square ball into the path of Delicate, but the forward could not reach the cross in time as Williams swatted the ball from harm’s way.
The home side was not to be denied again four minutes later when a poor clearance ricocheted behind the defense to an onrushing Ngwenya. Streaking through the midfield, he latched onto the loose ball and barreled into the penalty area. Facing Williams one-on-one, he calmly tapped in a low ball just inside the right post.
Vercollone nearly doubled the score in the final minutes of regulation when second-half substitute Nate Robinson played the ball back to the midfielder posted at the top of the box. but his laser shot through traffic was deflected over the crossbar.
In a last gasp effort to level the score, Dayton forward Brandon Swartzendruber swept up a loose ball in the midfield and fed it through to an unmarked Joe Broekhuizen. With the club’s postseason future on the line, he struck a low, driven shot on target but Dykstra threw himself off his line to parry the ball wide to send the Kickers through to the next round.
The Kickers return to City Stadium next Saturday, August 31 to host the Charlotte Eagles in the semifinals of the 2013 USL PRO Playoffs. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.