Saturday, April 28, 2001
By Forrest Robleto
SJSports Staff Writer
The South Jersey Barons hosted the Richmond Kickers in an Open Cup qualifier for their home opener. The Barons are a D-3 team (just two steps from MLS) and the Kickers are an A team (one step from MLS). The Barons and Kickers played to a 0-0 tie until the last minute of the game when Kicker Peter Luzak picked up a loose ball on a scramble in front of keeper Vartughian and put it in the net.
Up until that point, both teams had been perfect on defense. But as the Kickers outshot their opponents 19-4, the Barons had been slightly more perfect. Playing against a stronger team the Barons tightened up the defense and Vartughian played a near perfect game. Paul Zgalich played a very strong game but got into trouble early with a yellow card for an encounter with Kicker Ukrop on a questionable call. Ukrop sprawled virtually every time he got near one of the defense. The referee seemed to fall for this early but ignored it for the bulk of the game (Ukrop went down early and often). Late in the game however, Ukrop and Zgalich made contact again and the referee decided that Zgalich was at fault and gave him a second card and the boot. The defense was noticeably weaker with Zgalich out of the lineup. Ukrop got a throw back to Kevin Alvero who slipped the ball over to Luzak. Luzak's shot trickled in through a mass of players.
The Barons couldn't have done much better on defense and could not seem to find a way to break into the Kickers defense. Mike Mcginty tested only twice on the night. Majik Agu who has been known to generate some excitement on offence was along with the rest of the offense held to nothing.
While not a league game, this was an Open Cup qualifier. Five D3 teams will qualify. The New Jersey Stallions having won the regular season title last year, will be one of the five.
The Banshees, the Barons sister team will play their first ever game next Saturday at 5:00 PM. They open against the New Jersey Wildcats, the Stallions sister team. That game will be followed immediately by the Barons game against another A league team, the Long Island Rough Riders. This will also be an Open Cup qualifier. The games will be played at Cherokee High School. Tickets $6.50 for adults ($4.50 for children 12 and under) will be available at the gate.