RICHMOND, VA – (Thursday, June 14, 2012) – The Richmond Kickers embark on a two-game road swing this weekend, taking on the Wilmington Hammerheads on Friday, June 15 and the Charlotte Eagles on Saturday, June 16. The matches will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., respectively, and the match in Wilmington will be broadcast live on USLnation.com.
“This is going to be the biggest challenge so far as we are still without several key players,” commented Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Head Coach and Director of Soccer. “On top of that, Wilmington are USL PRO’s in-form team and Charlotte will be looking for revenge after we stole a late win. The squad has responded well in recent weeks and we will need more of the same if we are to secure a playoff position.”
The Kickers meet both the Hammerheads and the Eagles for the second time this season, after narrowly edging each team in stoppage time at Richmond City Stadium.
In May, Hammerheads midfielder Andriy Budnyy gave Wilmington an early lead but the Kickers rallied back from the one goal deficit when David Bulow converted a second half penalty. It was not until after the 90 minute mark that forward Christopher Agorsor registered back to back goals seconds before the full-time whistle to earn a necessary three points.
One month later, the Kickers face the Eagles for the second time in as many weeks after a last-gasp goal lifted the Kickers to a 1-0 victory last Saturday. Scoreless through 90-plus minutes, the match seemed destined to remain deadlocked despite a persistent Eagles attack but with 30 seconds to spare, the Kickers relied on second half substitutes to comprise the lethal combination. Ross MacKenzie created the scoring opportunity when he chested the ball down 20 yards out. With one touch, he threaded it through traffic to an awaiting Agorsor on the left wing, who slotted the ball across the goal mouth, allowing Bulow at the far post to calmly tap the loose ball across the finish line in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
With a rivalry dating back to the 2006 season, the Kickers hold an all-time series record of 10-3-4 over the Hammerheads. The two clubs have a history of dramatic finishes, after having met in the USL PRO American Division Semifinals last August when the #3 seed Kickers ousted the #2 seed Hammerheads to advance to the Division Finals 5-4 on penalties. Scoreless for 120 minutes of regulation and overtime, the Kickers converted all five of their penalty kicks before relying on veteran goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale to make a heroic save on the Hammerhead’s fifth attempt to send to the Kickers through to the next round.
With an all-time series advantage of 20-9-9 over the Eagles, the Kickers’ extensive rivalry dates back to the club’s inception in 1993. In addition to heated regular season matches, the perennial Championship contenders have met in several high stakes games. The two clubs met in the 2007 USL-2 Semifinals when the Kickers came away with a 2-1 overtime win, boosting Richmond to their third consecutive appearance in the finals. In 2006, the Kickers hosted Charlotte in the Championship when the same scoreline fell to the home side in regulation, granting the Kickers their third league title in franchise history. Three years later, the rivals met again in the title match, when the Kickers rallied from a one goal deficit to reclaim the USL-2 crown, 3-1, over the Eagles in 2009.
Following this week’s road trip, the Kickers return to City Stadium to host the Rochester Rhinos and the School’s Out Festival, presented by nTelos Wireless on Saturday, June 23. The fun begins at 4:00 p.m. at Richmond City Stadium and the School’s Out Festival will feature a splash zone, music, inflatable games and fun for the whole family. The first 1,000 fans through the gate will receive a complimentary t-shirt, courtesy of nTelos Wireless. Admission is just $5.00 per person before 6:00 pm.