By Scott Adamson
When their inaugural National Premier Soccer League season comes to a close, Greenville FC will mark many milestones – first practice, first game, first goal scored.
Few will be remembered as fondly, however, as their first victory.
That came last Saturday in New Orleans as the expansion team from the Upstate of South Carolina stunned the homestanding Jesters, 2-1.
Trailing 1-0 at the break and through the early part of the second half, Coach Lee Squires’ squad got the equalizer from South African forward Regsan Watkins in the 75th minute and three minutes later, Furman defender Dalton Souder scored what proved to be the game-winner.
The team’s four goals in 2018 have all come from different players, with Michelangelo Dovidio scoring the first on opening night at Georgia Revolution FC and Malcom Frago putting GVLFC on the board in their home debut against Inter Nashville.
“That first win is always a big milestone,” said Squires, whose club stands at 1-2-0 through three matches. “It’s great to get that out of the way, and in the manner we did was pretty special. As you can imagine, the locker room was buzzing afterwards, with the boys enjoying the rewards for a great night’s work.”
Coming back on the road is always a difficult task, but Squires says his team is built to be resilient.
“We said at halftime that we were the younger team with the deeper bench, so it was important we didn’t go 2-0 down, as we felt we could make some changes in the second half to finish strong,” he said. “That turned out to be the case and the late goals showed our energy was still there late in the game. Training does have to change given the games and the traveling. Most of these guys are going back to college seasons in the fall, so we have to be mindful to set them back in good condition. We can add an extra day off and go lighter at times to help manage that.”
The result was another example of the team’s rapid improvement. The players have embraced the system and come together nicely since a 3-1 season opening loss to Georgia.
“It could be as simple as just more time together, and trusting and believing in a game plan,” Squires said of the turnaround. “It’s important to back a game plan up with a win, though, as it validates what you’re trying to do. We’ve stayed patient and trusted the process, so it’s nice to get the reward of a win.
“We now have to back it up with another on Thursday.”
This week Greenville has a chance to climb the table of the South Region’s Southeast Conference with two matches over three days.
Tonight. Emerald Force SC (0-3-0) out of Knoxville comes to Stone Stadium for a 7 p.m. clash, and on Saturday the “Boys In Green” face the Revolution (2-0-2) in a rematch, also in the friendly confines of Furman University’s campus.
“We’ll see what we can find out about the opposition team,” Squires said. “It’s usually more difficult early in the season, as Emerald will be a new opponent, but then the Revs we’ve seen already. Every little detail helps, but the main focus is always on ourselves first.”
Squires add that while there were several big moments in the team’s first “W,” the glory was evenly distributed.
“Every single player was massive and just as important as the other, and it was a real team win,” Squires said. “Everyone bought in and whether they scored the game winner and played 90 minutes or played the last two minutes, each player was crucial. Sometimes you have a star player that makes a difference, but in this game, the collective was the hero.”
For ticket information, go to www.gvlfc.com.