Mania stays composed in loss, 2-0

Charleston gets a fight, but spoils Md. home opener

May 10, 1999|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

Victory wasn't in the cards for the Maryland Mania in its A-League home opener at UMBC Stadium yesterday. With goals in each half, the Charleston (S.C.) Battery won, 2-0.

But to Mania players' credit, the performance never approached the disorder some might have feared, especially in wake of the front-office turmoil leading up to and through last week's discordant change of coaches after one game.

The Mania brought an announced crowd of 1,104, including soccer-mom Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and her daughter, to its feet with several nice first-half scoring chances. In fact, the Mania took play to the Battery steadily, sometimes quite attractively, for 30 minutes after kickoff.

"My work is not as difficult as I thought it would have been," said new coach Paul Kitson, who took over Thursday evening. "Charleston is a very good team, and to know that we came out, played them as well as we did, and could have scored goals -- it's a pleasing thing for me to think about."

The win lifted the 4-1 Battery, a winner also Friday night in Hershey, into first place in the eight-team Atlantic Division, where only the 0-3 Wildcats from up Interstate 83 and the 0-2 Mania lack victory.

The Battery took a 1-0 halftime lead off what seemed a routine restart in the 34th minute, a jarring end to what had been long stretches of Mania possession.

Battery defender John Limniatis sent his free kick from well outside the top-left corner of the Mania's box diagonally to just inside the box's top-right corner, where veteran midfielder Paul Conway had shaken his defender.

Conway, who played five seasons in England's first and second divisions and who also scored the Battery's winning overtime goal in Hershey, first-timed a rising shot over Mania goalkeeper Russell Payne.

"I thought that goal took the wind out of our sails," Kitson said.

Despite having the wind in its favor in the second half, the Mania could generate little offense, getting off only three shots in often rough, tenacious defensive play that earned four Battery players yellow cards from referee Alex Prus. Only one Mania player was carded.

Charleston iced its win in the 69th minute by beating a Mania offside trap 40 yards from goal and sending former Loyola College forward Mike Burke, the A-League's high-scoring Rookie of the Year last season, one-on-one against the onrushing Payne.

Substitute forward Clark Brisson's pass sprung the fast Burke open in left midfield, and he slotted his goal beneath Payne from 15 yards.

Goals: Charleston, Conway (34), Burke (69). Assists: Charleston, Limniatis, Brisson. Saves: Charleston, Hudock, 2; Maryland, Payne, 6. Shots: Charleston 15, Maryland 11. Yellow cards: Charleston 5, Maryland, 1. Halftime: Charleston, 1-0.

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