Win puts Chaos closer to playoffs
In the 12-year history of the West Virginia Chaos, the franchise has never made the Premier Development League playoffs. The club has come close a couple of times in recent years but was never able to take care of business toward the end of each season.
Friday night, the Chaos held off a late charge from the Cincinnati Dutch Lions to post a 2-1 victory at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium and moved a step closer toward that elusive goal.
“I thought we played really well,” said Chaos coach Chris Grassie. “We struggled a little bit in the second half tracking runners, but we finally figured it out and executed. It was a good win.”
Dion Peters put West Virginia (7-3-3) out in front in the 32nd minute, receiving a pass from Jake Szabo on a diagonal run and pushing a quick shot past Cincinnati keeper Eric Oswald. The Dutch Lions (6-3-3) thought they got the equalizer in the 55th minute when Chris Harmon beat Chaos goalie Sean Teepen, but Harmon was deemed offside to nullify the goal.
West Virginia capitalized on a Cincinnati error near the penalty area in the Dutch Lions’ defensive third in the 61st minute. Tyler Fabian stripped a Cincinnati center back of the ball and quickly found Szabo on the right, and Szabo deposited the ball in the back of the net to give the Chaos a 2-0 lead.
Cincinnati pulled within one goal in additional time of the second half when Tanner Patrick got on the end of a Kyle Smith direct free kick to cut the lead to 2-1. The Dutch Lions continued to pressure the Chaos defense for the remainder of the half, but West Virginia strongly defended until the final whistle.
The Chaos is now the sole owner of first place in the South Atlantic Division with 24 points and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker if West Virginia and second-place Cincinnati (21 points) finish with identical records at the top of the standings. The Dutch Lions have two remaining matches in the regular season, while the Chaos has one.
West Virginia will finish the season on the road on July 19 against the Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors (5-4-2), who have won four of their last five matches, at East River Soccer Complex in Bluefield.
“We’re going to take a couple of days off and get back to training next week,” added Grassie. “And we’ll look to take care of business against [Southern West Virginia].”