By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
In 1979, The Eagles famously sang “there’s gonna be a heartache tonight.” On Friday night, a group of Eagles from Charlotte gave the Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors a heartache of their own.
Leading 2-1 heading into the final seconds of stoppage time, Stefan Smith from the Eagles fired a shot that bounced off of keeper Stephen Moffitt. Smith then rebounded and fired it into the bottom left of the goal to draw Charlotte even, shortly before the final whistle blew.
“I felt our team came out with an appropriate and competitive collective mentality, and we were pleased with that,” King’s Warriors manager Scott Reitnour said. “We started the game very well, and we created chances in the second half that if we had finished we wouldn’t have been in the situation we were at the end of the match. Those pennies didn’t drop, but maybe this was how it was supposed to be. The Eagles are a fantastic organization.”
The Eagles came into the match as the favorite to win, purely based on the level of competition. Charlotte plays in the USL PRO division, one step ahead of the PDL on the U.S. Soccer pyramid.
“To come out and play a team such as the Eagles, it was kind of intimidating,” Warriors keeper Erik Mozzo said. “But I think the guys were up to it. We were really relaxed, calm, cool and collected.”
The Warriors cracked the score books first in the 26th minute when Billy Forbes found a pass from Miguel Teos and fired it home to take the 1-0 lead. It was short-lived however, as just 3 minutes later Drew Yates scored the equalizer to take it into the half even.
Reitnour made several adjustments at the half, including bringing in backup keeper Moffitt for Mozzo and subbing in Barbadian forward Zari Prescod to help stretch the defense.
With the backline stretched, Miguel Teos was able to dance across the midfield and in front of the goal, before finally putting it away; much to the adoration of the King’s Warriors fans in the stands.
“I just saw an opportunity to take a shot and happened to shoot,” Teos said. “Thank God it went in.”
The King’s Warriors will gladly accept the result and the confidence gained from it as they take to the road for their first real road trip this season. They’ll seek revenge for a 3-1 loss to SC United on Friday before taking on perennial power Carolina Dynamo the following night.
For Reitnour, the trip is going to be about so much more than soccer. It’s about personal growth and fellowship.
“That trip is going to be exciting. We’re taking all (35) players with us,” he said. “So much bonding goes within the team environment on the road trip. So much bonding on the road will be a neat experience for those guys.”
The black and orange express will return to Beckley on June 18 for the final leg of the Coal Cup Clash when they do battle with the West Virginia Chaos.