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Talking Points - Week 9

By ETHAN TRIEBSCH -, 05/17/23, 5:30PM EDT


First quadruple header of the season delivered all the drama

Richmond erased a two-goal deficit against Greenville to keep the all-time series even, Amal Knight was clutch for Lexington, Madison proved its unbeaten streak is no fluke, and Northern Colorado picked up its second win of the season.

Here are the biggest takeaways from each Week 9 League One match.

1. even match, even series

The Richmond Kickers (2-1-4, 7th) erased a two-goal deficit in 23 minutes, climbing back to finish level with Greenville Triumph SC (3-4-1, 5th), 2-2, on Saturday evening at Paladin Stadium.

"We felt very hard done by in the first 30 minutes of play with decisions that resulted in goals for the opposition," Kickers Head Coach and Sporting Director Darren Sawatzky said. "At halftime, we talked about controlling what we could control and our team responded with two good goals to get a point on the road. We'll continue to work on our resilient nature and we're proud of the guys' effort tonight."

Greenville raced out to a 2-0 advantage in just 24 minutes with goals from Lucas Coutinho in the third minute and Brandon Fricke in the 27th minute. With the goals, Coutinho reached a career-best four goals in a single season and Fricke joined former Greenville teammates Don Smart and Jake Keegan as just the third player in league history to score in every League One season.

Goals in quick succession from defender Nathan Aune and midfielder Luke Pavone - who netted his first professional goal just two minutes after subbing on in the 80th minute - helped the Kickers earn a point on the road and keep the all-time series even at 5-5-2.

"I think the energy levels were high, we talked about getting after Richmond," said Greenville Head Coach John Harkes. "They’re a good team. They compete every game, they always do, but we have to try to get on the front foot early."

"The match was a test of what this team is made of," Richmond's Aune said. "First half, we found ourselves down 2-0 on some tough calls. We regrouped at half and fought back and dominated the game. We showed great togetherness and fight to come back into the game and, if we played for five more minutes, I think we walk away with three points."

2. Knight's Stoppage-Time stuff caps off thrilling Night

Lexington SC (2-4-1, 10th) secured what may well serve as its first true 'signature win' in club history, hanging on to defeat the second-place Charlotte Independence (3-2-4, 2nd) on Saturday evening by a final tally of 1-0.

Lexington goalkeeper Amal Knight, the 29-year-old Jamaica international, powered LSC to a special shutout victory, tallying the 14th clean sheet of his senior club and international career. Khalid Balogun granted Lexington a one-goal advantage in the 78th minute, but a stoppage-time penalty was awarded to Charlotte. Knight, though, made a massive save against fellow Jamaican Khori Bennett that saw Lexington secure a massive home victory.

"I’ve been training really well, and I’ve been trusting that training," Knight said. "I got my opportunity tonight to come in and do my thing and I really felt good. I’d been making saves all night, so I knew going into the penalty I had to help out the team and that’s what I did. I came up big, and I thank God we got three points."

"That’s what this game does. It’s such a beautiful game and it can take you from the highest of highs to the lowest low and back to the highest high in a matter of seconds,” Lexington Head Coach Sam Stockley said of Knight's Penalty save. "We honestly felt we were hard done at Chattanooga where we dominated the game and we had a difficult 90 seconds that cost us. Today it evens out. I couldn’t be more proud of the team, the staff and the club. It’s just a wonderful moment for us to be able to get three points. The season carries on but we’ll enjoy this one tonight."

With the victory, Lexington is still on track to join only Union Omaha (2020) as the only expansion side in its first season to maintain an undefeated record against clubs ranked first, second or third at the time of the match.

"We need to be better at creating and finishing chances," Charlotte Head Coach Mike Jeffries said. "We certainly need to be better in transition, especially defensively. I think tonight is frustrating in that we struggled in the first half, but I felt that we made a good push in the second half, but we ended up conceding a goal we didn’t manage well. I thought we showed a little bit of fight at the end, but not enough to get back into it."

3. 'Mingos Enjoy Club-record unbeaten start

Forward Madison FC (2-0-4, 6th) earned its first result at WakeMed Soccer Park, picking up a quality win against the league's top team, North Carolina FC (5-2-1, 1st), with a 2-0 victory. The FMFC victory snaps North Carolina FC's seven-match unbeaten streak and four-match win streak, the side's best since 2019 and 2016, respectively, and also earns the 'Mingos a club-record six matches unbeaten to start a season.

"I’m really pleased with the performance from start to finish, it was our best game of the season against a very good team," FMFC Head Coach Matt Glaeser said. "We had the courage to play our game, and overall, I thought it was our best performance yet this season."

North Carolina, the highest-scoring club heading into the week, mustered just one shot on target through the contest - its lowest mark since July 2022. Madison was able to capitalize on its five shots on target, converting two through a long-range rocket from Isidro Martínez in the 14th minute and a first FMFC goal for captain Mitch Osmond in the 68th minute.

"We weren't good enough from the start tonight and never did enough to compete with a good Madison team. We’ll learn from this one and immediately get prepared for another battle against Richmond on Wednesday. We appreciated a strong crowd tonight and look forward to putting together a better performance for the fans on Wednesday."

4. Hailstorm leave Knoxville with three points

Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC (2-1-2, 9th) picked up its first victory in over a month, downing One Knoxville SC (3-3-2, 4th) 2-1 at Regal Soccer Stadium on Saturday.

"Three points on the road anywhere, no matter how you get it, is great," Hailstorm Head Coach Éamon Zayed said. "I don’t know if it was from the rustiness of having that week off, maybe that contributed to the slow start."

A defensive affair in the first half, the match broke open early in the second half as the Hailstorm sent two past Sean Lewis in the Knoxville goal. Scores from Trevor Amann and Billy King set the visitors up with a two-goal advantage, but another Jake Keegan penalty conversion halved the Hailstorm lead. While OKSC controlled the ball for the majority of the second half, the hosts were unable to find an equalizer.

"We're very disappointed in the final result as we feel we controlled a large part of the game," Knoxville Head Coach Mark McKeever said. "We failed to be clinical with our chances and Northern Colorado succeeded in theirs and essentially that’s what decides the result. We are playing well and still getting better by each game but nothing will change for us until we start to make the net bulge from all the possession and opportunities we are creating."

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