Chaos in the hunt for PDL playoffs
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Chaos seems better equipped this season to handle the ups and downs that come with semi-pro soccer.
"There's great friendship together,'' said Chaos first-year player-coach Predrag Ivanovic, who played the previous three seasons with the Charleston-based team. "The chemistry that we've built together this summer ... both on and off the field.''
That camaraderie has the Chaos once more knocking on the door for its first playoff berth in the Premier Development League's Eastern Conference.
That pursuit begins in earnest at 7:30 tonight when the Chaos (4-5-2) hosts the Virginia Beach Piranhas (3-2-2) at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium in Coonskin Park. West Virginia, which will be playing its fourth game in eight days, and the Piranhas dueled to a 1-1 draw Saturday.
West Virginia hit a slight bump in the road Wednesday when it lost 3-1 to the Southern West Virginia King's Warriors in Beckley. The Chaos also had high hopes for its foray into Virginia last weekend, but came away with a tie and a loss.
The Chaos remains in second place in the South Atlantic Division, just one point behind the Carolina Dynamo (15-14) with three games left in the regular season. West Virginia can make some hay after tonight with its final two contests a home-and-away series with Carolina.
"Everybody's pulling in the same direction so it makes it a lot easier,'' said Ivanovic. "It's been like that from Day 1 between the coaching staff and players. [In the past] there were always some misunderstandings or frustrations. I think this is the best soccer we've played in the past four years.''
Ivanovic said there is no longer any room for error.
"We need to win tonight, that's the bottom line,'' said the Chaos coach who will be a graduate assistant for the University of Charleston men's soccer team this fall. "We missed a chance to secure points. We just need to take care of our business the next three games.''
The Chaos has never made the playoffs in its 11-year history. The closest West Virginia has come to the postseason was last year when it missed out on the four-team field by one point.
"Everybody has committed their whole summer to that one goal,'' said Ivanovic. "Everybody works their tails off every single day.
"Even in practice everybody's going hard. Nobody is giving up. Every practice is like a game. It's a very challenging environment day in and day out.''
The Chaos has a local flavor with Adam Fox and Joe Johns (Charleston Catholic High School) and Brady Reymond (Point Pleasant), who has signed with Marshall. James Pucci paces the Chaos with nine goals and Ivanovic has a team-high five assists.
Tickets for tonight's matchup are $7 for adults, $5 for college or high school students with an ID, $3 for youths ages 5-12 and children under 5 are admistted free.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.