By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Scott Reitnour has high expectations for his squad; and why shouldn't he?
The Southern West Virginia King's Warriors came into the season with a 35-man roster, comprised mostly of top college prospects, international youngsters and plenty of motivation to prove that they belong.
But after five games played, the King’s Warriors have gone 1-4-0 and have accumulated a paltry 3 points, leaving them fifth place in the six team South Atlantic Division and ten points away from league leader West Virginia Chaos.
“We’ve been punched in the face, but we’re not going to fall down,” Reitnour said. “We’re going to keep battling and keep fighting and this season is going to turn. It’s not an option.”
To say the King’s Warriors have been battered and bruised may be a bit of an understatement.
After beginning the season with a 3-1 victory over the in-state rival Chaos, the King’s Warriors have now lost four in a row, being outscored 15-2.
“I think we’re struggling in the final third (of the pitch),” said Reitnour. “We have talented wingers who are great one-on-one and while I think that is strength, it has also been a weakness. We haven’t been able to combine well.”
Southern West Virginia has managed production from forwards Zari Prescod and Billy Forbes, but hasn’t quite been able to stretch the field and feed the middle man like Reitnour had hoped.
“I think it’s coming,” Reitnour said. “It takes a while to teach and to download in a PDL environment because the season is so short.
“It would be easy as a coach to opt out of the tactics that we play and just sit back and play a 4-4-2 or a more direct style and I think if we had done that we would have more wins,” Reitnour said. “But when we try to play by putting the ball on the ground we expose ourselves. We take risks and we take chances. It’s just going to hurt us.”
The King’s Warriors suffered a heartbreaking road trip that saw the black and orange express derailed in 3-1 to S.C. United last Friday and a club record 5-0 loss to Carolina Dynamo the following evening.
It’s a loss that left the King’s Warriors manager disappointed.
“We did not play passionately,” Reitnour said. “I’m disappointed in our effort in catastrophic loses. We can talk about development all we want, but it’s the competitive aspect that hasn’t been there. They’d like that game back.
“I have faith in this group of guys and they’ll turn this thing around before it’s all said and done,” Reitnour added. “They’re too good of a group. It’s going to be their choice. We’re not going to force them to compete and it’s ultimately their decision, but I really think if what I’m seeing in their character in nature is true, they will.”
They’ll look to turn things around, and maybe get a little revenge, when they welcome S.C. United back to Beckley on Saturday Night.
“I’m really excited to play them again,” Reitnour said. “I think we have been unfortunate in the two matches against them. They have found ways to score goals against us and we haven’t. I would say both games we have out possessed them, but they’re the team who has won. I am excited to play them.”
First kick will be at 7 p.m. at Carter Field in Beckley.
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Tuesday’s match with the West Virginia Chaos was cancelled due to weather and poor playing conditions. The two clubs are working to reschedule the date for the final leg of the Coal Cup Clash.
— E-mail: email@example.com, and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.