Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 29, 2014

Making history: King's Warriors get first-ever win over Carolina

EAST RIVER — In five matches all-time against the Carolina Dynamo, the Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors came up on the losing end.

Until Saturday night.

Southern West Virginia found the net once in each half, and held off a flurry of offense from Carolina to record a 2-1 result at East River Soccer Complex and break their winless streak against the perennial PDL powerhouse.

A week prior, in Greensboro, the Dynamo had beaten the King’s Warriors 4-1, increasing their point differential all-time to 17-2.

But on Saturday, Southern West Virginia (4-4-2) came out with the necessary counter-measures.

Head coach Scott Reitnour said, “We changed the way we played, a little bit, tonight, in terms of how we matched up with the Dynamo (and) our style and our formation.”

“We felt like their No. 10 (Brandt Bromico) was a difference in the game at their place, and we did a couple of things to try to neutralize that.”

“We also felt like we were very weak defensively, on the flanks, because we dove in too much and we got split. So we trained this week to just keep their wide players in front of us and not diving in.”

Twice in the first nine minutes, the Warriors took the ball near to the Dynamo (4-4-1) goal, only to be called offsides.

In the 10th minute, the home team struck gold — with a little unintended help.

Jack Ramsey sent a ball into the goal box that glanced off a Carolina defender and into the net.

Several more times in the first half, Southern West Virginia picked the pocket of the Carolina offense and took the ball the other way, but no more scores resulted.

In the 39th minute, Elijah Ukpong slammed a shot on goal but it was slapped away by goalkeeper Alec Ferrell. By halftime, the King’s Warriors had taken six shots.

Carolina began the second half determined to possess the ball. For the first minute of play, it worked, then time of possession evened out again.

Reitnour said that in the second half, “We made one tactical change. We simply switched Elijah (Ukpong) and Jake (Ramsay).

“We thought Jake had begun to get a little bit predictable, coming inside, and we wanted his pace on the opposite side of the field — so if he got closed down, we wouldn’t be punished in transition.”

Southern West Virginia scored off a corner kick in the 56th minute for a critical 2-0 advantage. Ukpong waited in a crowd in front of the goal for his opportunity, then as the ball came off the keeper’s hands, booted the globe into the left corner of the net — his third goal of the season.

Ukpong said, “I just watched the ball, and looked for every single mistake from the goalkeeper. And he made the mistake and he just punched the ball to me, and I put it in.”

The King’s Warriors defense took over for the most part after that, forcing the Dynamo strikers into wide, awkward angles at the goal.

Carolina cut the lead to 2-1 in the 87th minute when substitute Chad Craig slid a ball across the goal line behind the far post.

The Dynamo went all-out on offense in the final few minutes, but were checked on every other attempt.

Southern West Virginia goalkeeper Alex Guyer said, “In the last 10 minutes, they were just putting balls in left and right.”

“They started going real direct, and coming over the top at us, so we just dropped off a little bit and had everybody back defending, those last 10 minutes. We defended well as a unit. That’s what won us the game, I think.”

Guyer fell to the ground in the last minute of the match after taking a hit while making his final save. He eventually got up and finished the match.

“Just a little collision,” Guyer said. “That happens. It’s a contact sport. ... I just got up, and kind of shook it off for a second, and we got the ball away.”

Reitnour said, “We were really pleased with the back four, and Josh (Kremers) coming in late ... and Alex was fantastic in goal as well. I thought Ben (Steen) and Carter (Robbins) did a really good job handling Mamadee (Nyepon, a Carolina forward).”

“It was just a really solid defensive effort from our back four, plus Alex.”

Ukpong said, “The defense worked together as a team, moved together as a team, and were able to make sure that we didn’t concede any goals.”

Reitnour added, “We tried to tried to go deep into our roster to manage the game at the end, and save our guys’ legs a little bit.”

He summed up the game as “an unselfish, very competitive team-focused effort on the part of our franchise, from top to bottom ... .”

“Basically, we’ve kind of figured some things out within our organization. We’re learning how to be unselfish, and put the team ahead of the self. That’s the biggest psychological variable in tonight’s win.”

Ukpong said, “It’s a massive win for us. We wanted to break the jinx of losing every time to them. We’re all happy we were able to do that tonight. We hope this becomes a turnaround for our season, and helps us to grow as a team and grow as an organization as well.”

Guyer said, “It was a good win for the organization. The first time we beat them. It’s a big win for us. We’re excited. We’re breaking streaks now, and we’ve just got to keep doing that, the next few games.”

Reitnour said, “Like I’ve said to George (Aiello) and Hank (Furry) and Dr. (James) Blume and our family here at Bluefield, we love playing at home. The boys feel that there’s a 12th man here for us.

“From the very beginning, Bluefield has rolled out the red carpet to receive us, and we’re so thankful for that. We’re glad to be here. I’m really excited for Dr. Blume. I know he’s wanted this result for a long time.”

“And this pushes us further up the table, and we expect to continue that climb.”

Southern West Virginia led in shots 10-7. Guyer made two saves and Ferrell had five. Carolina led in corner kicks 7-4. The King’s Warriors had 10 fouls to eight by the Dynamo.

The King’s Warriors will play at home again at 7 p.m. Thursday against the River City Rollers from Kentucky.

— Contact Tom Bone; Twitter @BDTBone

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