Seven months ago when the clock struck triple zeros at Toyota Stadium, James Madison University stood atop the Football Championship Subdivision as National Champions after a 28-14 victory over Youngstown State in the FCS National Title Game. The victory gave the Dukes their second national championship in football (2004 was the first) and brought the state of Virginia its first college football championship since Richmond won it all in 2008.
Now JMU will embark on the daunting quest to defend its title. Fortunately the Dukes return 14 of 22 starters from its championship roster, enough for the voters in the Coaches Poll to tag them with the #1 ranking to start the year. On tap for JMU in week one on September 2nd is a trip to FBS level East Carolina so we will know just how good this roster is right out of the gate. The Dukes will be led by senior QB Bryan Schor, senior TE Jonathan Kloosterman and senior lineman Aaron Stinnie on offense with senior lineman Andrew Ankrah and senior safety Raven Greene heading up the defense.
After upsetting 7th ranked North Dakota in the FCS Playoffs, the Richmond Spiders 2016 season came to a crashing halt after a 38-0 defeat at #2 Eastern Washington. By all means it was still a successful season for Richmond as they finished 10-4 overall, tied for 4th in the competitive Colonial Athletic Association with a 5-3 mark and notched an opening week upset of FBS member UVA in Charlottesville.
Richmond, who opens the year ranked #7 in the FCS Coaches poll, brings back 2016 CAA Preseason Player of the Year Kyle Lauletta at QB along with talented running back Deontez Thompson to anchor the offense. Much like JMU, the Spiders will throw themselves in the fire right away when the travel to FCS power Sam Houston State, who will begin the season ranked #3 in the FCS Coaches Poll, on August 27th.
William and Mary will look to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 campaign. The Tribe began the year ranked in the Coaches Poll, but ultimately finished nowhere near the playoffs with 5-6 overall mark and 3-5 in league play. Up first for William and Mary is a trip to Charlottesville to play UVA on September 2nd. While the Tribe don’t have the starting QB position nailed down yet (reportedly five players are in the mix), they will bring back senior offensive players WR Devonte Dedmon and lineman Chris Durant to provide veteran leadership.
With JMU and Richmond in contention for a National Title once again and the Tribe poised to rebound, it appears Virginia will be well represented when the playoffs roll around in December.
Kickers Started the Fireworks Early with a 4-1 Win Over NCFC – Photos and Game Summary
Official Kickers Game Summary
RICHMOND KICKERS: 4
59′ Terzaghi (Payne), 63′ Bolanos (Terzaghi), 75′ Gordon (Bryant), 79′ Terzaghi (Gordon)
NORTH CAROLINA FC: 1
41′ Anderson (McLaughlin)
The Richmond Kickers (7-4-3, 24 pts) ended the week back in first place in USL League One as they defeated North Carolina FC (5-6-2, 17 pts) with a 4-1 come-from-behind win in front of the largest crowd this season of 4,702 attendees. Emiliano Terzaghi scored two goals while Jonathan Bolanos and Owayne Gordon each scored one.
The first opportunity for the Kickers came in the 8th minute. Stephen Payne passed the ball to Ethan Bryant. The midfielder quickly crossed it to Bentley who tried to get his head on the ball, however, it found Vincenzo Candela who took the volley shot just wide from the net.
North Carolina FC presented a dangerous opportunity as Jaden Servenia passed the ball out wide to former-Richmond Kicker Oalex Anderson who crossed it to Garrett McLaughlin but was not able to score in the 30th minute.
Then 10 minutes later in the 40th minute, McLaughlin collected the ball in the Kickers’ half and passed the ball to Anderson, who had space between the defenders and put the ball in the lower far post.
The Kickers came back hungry in the second half and did not back down despite trailing 1-0 at halftime.
In the 50th minute, the Kickers were knocking on NCFC’s goal as Candela found Bolanos’ head but was redirected just wide of the net. One minute later, Gordon took a rocket shot on the outside corner of the box, forcing Will Pulisic to make his first save of the night.
In the 59th minute, the Kickers’ determination and persistence were rewarded. Zaca Moran found Stephen Payne on the right flank. Payne took the ball to the endline and crossed it in finding Terzaghi who glanced his header into the goal, tying up the match 1-1.
The Kickers did not stop there.
Not even one minute later, Terzaghi picked up the ball off of a Moran interception and shot the ball just wide looking for his second of the night.
In the 62nd minute, Payne connected with Terzaghi once more and Terzaghi passed the ball back to Bolanos who took the shot from right outside the box going into the lower left side of the goal giving the Kickers the lead.
The Roos still continued to press for more and the hard work was rewarded again.
Bolanos found Bryant just above the box. Bryant unselfishly passed the ball to Gordon who was crashing towards goal and reaped the rewards with the third goal of the night.
Four minutes later, Gordon received the ball on the run down the right flank and he took the ball to the endline. He dribbled all the way into the box and squared the ball to a crashing Terzaghi in the 6-yard box who guided the ball into the net for his second goal of the night, securing the 4-1 win.
The second half also marked the professional debut of Austin Causey who stood between the pipes for the Kickers for the first time like his father and former Kicker Jeff Causey.
Chandler O’Dwyer made his league debut for the Roos after previously making his professional debut in the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The Kickers are back on the road to face Charlotte Independence on Friday, July 8, before returning home to take on Greenville Triumph on Saturday, July 16, to celebrate Pride Night. Kickoff for the match against Greenville is set for 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at richmondkickers.com/tickets.
Kickers Nemesis NCFC Come to Town – Preview
This team for reasons unknown always seems to have the Kickers number. Home or away it doesn’t seem to matter to NCFC.
Opponent: North Carolina FC (5 – 5 – 2)
Date/Time: Saturday, July 2nd, 7 PM (This is a 1/2 hour later than usual)Goal
Last Result: Kickers 1 – FC Tucson 0
Weather Forecast from Weatherbug
Hot, humid chance of thunderstorms. In other words a typical Virginia summer night.
Three Things to Kick About
- Goals We Got ’em – The Kickers have three players that have scored 4 or more goals. Terzaghi has 5, Bently and Vinyals have 4. Bolanos has managed 2 including a wonder strike on Wednesday and Bryant had a 2 goal streak. So many options you don’t where the goals are going to come from. It’s awesome.
- Defense – Overall the Kickers defense has been rock solid but lately they’ve been more than a little shaky. They held on by the skin of their teeth for the win in Tucson. Then gave up a one-goal lead against Forward Madison the week before and ended up losing 2-1. This isn’t helped by an injury to Aune who may or may not be back this week.
- Travel – The Kickers were in Madison, Wisconsin last Friday. This past Wednesday they were in Tucson, Arizona. I get exhausted traveling to Short Pump traveling out to Arizona so I can’t imagine having to deal with the back to back trips these players had to deal with. Combined with a hot humid night here in Richmond could make for some leaden legs.
For the first time in Kickers’ history they’ll be shooting off fireworks after the game. Details here.
Since the dawn of time, I’ve predicted that the Kickers will beat NCFC. I have been constantly disappointed. So in a flash of brilliance, I’m going to predict a tie thus insuring a victory. As always on paper we are the better team. The Kickers are higher on the table, have a better goal differential, scored more goals, allowed less goals, have a better goalkeeper and are playing at home. All that doesn’t matter the Kickers are going to get the draw.
Kickers 1 – NCFC 1
Kickers Weather the Hailstorm and Pickup the Win – Photos and Game Summary
The Kickers are alone on the top of the table and have scored 21 goals. That’s 6 more goals than 2nd place Chattanooga and 12 more goals than FC Tuscon who sit at the bottom of the table.
Official Kickers Game Summary
RICHMOND KICKERS: 3 42′ Vinyals (Bentley), 45+2′ Terzaghi, 76′ Bolanos (Gordon)
NORTHERN COLORADO HAILSTORM FC: 2 68′ Cornwall (Rogers), 88′ Folla (Cornwall)
The Richmond Kickers (5-3-3,18 pts) earned a 3-2 win over Northern Colorado Hailstorm (8-2-3, 10 pts) to keep their place at the top of the league standings with goals scored by Nil Vinyals, Emiliano Terzaghi, and Jonathan Bolanos.
The match began to pick up in the 16th minute with a free kick opportunity taken by Nil Vinyals in the 16th minute. In the 18th minute, there was another key opportunity for Terzaghi as he picked the ball off of the Hailstorm defender and took the shot from outside the right corner of the 18-yard-box.
The Kickers continued to knock on Northern Colorado’s door with another opportunity taken in the 27th minute by Bolanos as he received the ball around midfield and dribbled all the way to the box and took a shot that was deflected by the keeper.
The makeup of the game changed in the 29th minute as Hailstorm went down to 10 players on the field when Destan Norman received his second yellow within one minute of receiving his first yellow due to a reckless tackle committed on Vinyals. The first yellow card offense was given due to a reckless tackle on Terzaghi in the 28th minute.
In the 42nd minute, the Kickers drew first blood with a play orchestrated by Stephen Payne and Matthew Bentley to get the ball into the box to find Vinyals who was crashing into the box. Payne played the ball up to Bentley just in front for Bentley to play the one-touch cross that found Vinyals. The Spaniard caught the pass on the volley with pace which raced past the keeper and into the back of the net.
The Kickers doubled their lead in the first minute of first-half stoppage time as Moran switched the field to find Payne. The fullback crossed the ball into the box, finding Bolanos who attempted to take the shot for himself. The initial attempt was saved, but Terzaghi was there waiting patiently for the rebound off the defender. He calmly put the ball past the keeper and into the net to net his first league goal since April 25th.
The Roos were hungry for more out of the break as Bentley drew a foul in the 53rd minute just outside of the penalty area. Vinyals took the free kick and his attempt curved to the right side of the goal but was denied as it just missed the inside of the right post.
Northern Colorado pulled one back to cut the Kickers’ lead in the 68th minute when Arthur Rogers sent in a free kick that was headed into the net by Robert Cornwall.
The Roos responded in the 77th minute as Payne gave the ball to Owayne Gordon on the right wing. The winger crossed the ball with a deadly curve that froze the keeper and went out of the reach of the defender. Waiting on the back side was Bolanos who went low to redirect the ball into the net.
Hailstorm found one more in the 88th minute as Leo Folla was able to score off a set piece that was taken by Cornwall.
The visitors had one chance at finding a late equalizer, but Akira Fitzgerald was able to calmly make the final save of the match in the second minute of stoppage time.
The Kickers will travel on Thursday, June 23rd to take on Forward Madison FC. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. The watch party will be held at The Playbook Sports Bar and Grill.