Barons on the road for vital qualifiers

Squad needs all six points to stay alive for the Open Cup

The Ocean City Barons will look to bounce back from a disappointing home opening draw against Williamsburg with a two-game road trip against two PDL newcomers. Last weekend's result puts additional pressure on the Barons. If they want to return to the U.S. Open Cup for the third straight year, they have to win both games.

The weekend begins with a Friday night match in Charleston, WV against the West Virginia Chaos. It will be the home opener for the second year franchise, who are looking to rebound from a disappointing result of their own. The Chaos lost 3-1 to the Northern Virginia Royals last weekend.

The Chaos are hoping to improve on their five-win inaugural season by featuring several players from NCAA Division II powerhouse Carson-Newman, including the return of goalkeeper Tyler Baldock. Last season, Carson-Newman finished with an 18-2-2 record, eventually falling in the Division II final. The roster also features several players from West Virginia University and Notre Dame College in Ohio.

After their battle with the Chaos on Friday, the Barons will hop back on the bus and head to Virginia Beach for a Sunday night match with the Submariners at the Sportsplex. They are off to a great start in their first year in the PDL with two road wins against the Albany Admirals and the Brooklyn Knights this past weekend. The unbeaten Submariners are led by U.S. Under-20 National Team member, and University of North Carolina product, Corey Ashe, who already has two goals in the early season. The team is made up with a majority of local talent and will likely have a strong home crowd at their home opener.

With the 1-1 draw in their home opener, the Barons essentially need to win out in their remaining games in May to have any chance of qualifying for the 2006 U.S. Open Cup. The top two teams from the Eastern Conference qualify, and with 14 teams in contention, any loss in qualifying usually eliminates you from contention. (In a rare exception, the 2005 Ocean City Barons managed to sneak in with a 3-1 record.)

Barons Head Coach Neil Holloway has a little more insite on what to expect this weekend.

What we can expect from the West Virginia Chaos?

I know the WV coach frommy days in college when Wheeling played against Charleston.  As a club they have had some big changes recently with new ownership etc, so they will be looking for better results this season.  It will be tough for us travelling 8 hours on a bis and playing the game the same night, but we will be looking for nothing less than a win to kick start our open cup bid.

What we can expect from the Virginia Beach Submariners?

VB will be good. They will be organized with some good players.  They are a professional outfit as they have the Mariners USL1 team, so all the players for them will be looking to impress at home each game, as they will want to eventually be playing for their USL 1 team when they get out of college.  I think this will be the make or break game, as far as qualifying for the Open Cup.

How important is it to come away with six points from the weekend, and what do you think your chances are of doing so?"

The goal of the first 4 games of every season is to accumilate at least 3 wins.  Having tied our opener at home, this means we have to win 2 on the road and then at home to Albany to stand a chance of qualifying for the Open Cup.  Last year we qualified with 9 points.  This year I always said that 10 points would get us in.  We have 1 from our tie at home, therefore we need to win the next 3, which means back to back wins on the road.  It is extremely important to qualify as it give the players and the club great exposure.

Are there any notable lineup or roster changes?

The only changes I am willing to share, is that Chris Williams and Adam Edwards will not come on the trip because they have their graduations.  But we have Issey Maholo (GK), Andy Tait, and Matt Maher back available for selection.  Scott Hawkins is also in training and available for selection.

What is the team's latest injury report? What is the status of Ruben Mingo?

Mingo is fit and ready to play. no other injuries to report.

How has the team dealt with the disappointing draw last weekend?

Although it was dissapointing not to win and have them tie the game in the last few minutes, the result was not a terrible one. I just reminded the boys this week that we did not get beat, and we remain undeafted at home for over 2 years.  After watching the game back on tape, I was actaully very pleased with the way we played, and if we would have finished our chances the game would have been over at halftime.  There is no extra motivation for this weekend.  We are very motivated and determined to get two wins on the road regardless of what happend this past weekend.  We are confident of gaining 6 points on the road, as we are one of the best teams in our conference and in the PDL.

Friday’s match with West Virginia kicks off at 8:00, while Sunday’s match against Virginia Beach will get underway at 6:30. After the weekend doubleheader, the Barons return home to take on the Albany Admirals in the team’s final Open Cup qualifier.

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