A busy slate of USL League One games Friday night left Richmond in a position to climb into playoff contention. All the Kickers needed to do was to defeat the visiting Chattanooga Red Wolves SC at City Stadium Saturday night to pick up three points and jump to seventh in the league standings.
With a dramatic goal by striker Emiliano Terzaghi and a determined defense, Richmond did just that, walking away with a 1-0 victory and a perch in seventh place in the league standings.
Despite a furious Red Wolves attack early in the first half, the Richmond defense held on. The Kicker offense, while getting off to a slow start, played to some degree of parity with Chattanooga.
Early in the second half – after earning a corner kick – Richmond’s Viktor Falck stepped up toward the left early in the set piece and headed the ball toward the goal and drawing Chattanooga keeper Tim Trilk to his left. Trilk batted the ball in the opposite direction. Terzaghi reached out with his foot and sent the ball into the back of the Red Wolves’ net.
Richmond head coach and chief athletic officer Darren Sawatzky praised Terzaghi – the top scorer in the league – as a “talisman.” But he also had praise for the man at the front end of the play, Falck.
“What a machine, hugh?” Sawatzky said. “This kid’s been out for a month with an upper body injury. We plugged him back into training this week and he wouldn’t be denied. . . . I’m just really proud. For Victor to come back after a month of not playing any games, and plugging and playing 90, 97 minutes – man, that’s a testament to him. What a great kid.”
The Red Wolves made several vigorous attacks and put intense pressure on the Richmond goal at times. But the Kickers’ defense held up, and Richmond Keeper had several spectacular saves out of his six saves of the evening.
“We have five games left in the season, but I’m going to save this out loud – I’ll say it to anyone on this planet. Akira Fitzgerald is the best goalkeeper in this league,” Sawatzky said. “There’s no question. He makes the saves he needs to make. He’s leading in every category for the most part. He’s unbelievable.”
Sawatzky was justifiably happy with the rest of his defense.
“The guys swallowed the pressure that they brought,” he said. “We knew that they would come. They’ve been like that all year – the bully antics of running through the back of people, elbow first and all of these things. The guys swallowed it and found their way into the game. I’m really proud of them. And then they found a goal.”
Dave Lawrence can be reached at email@example.com.