RICHMOND, VA - (Monday, September 18, 2000) - Last night in the second round of the A-League playoffs the Toronto Lynx defeated the Richmond Kickers 1-0 in the second leg of the two-game series. The aggregate score of the series fell in favor of the Lynx after winning 1-0 last night and 1-0 on Friday night in Toronto. The seventh seeded Lynx advance to take on the #4 Rochester Raging Rhinos next weekend in the Eastern Conference finals.
At the opening whistle there was a sense of urgency in the air from a crowd of 4,027 that understood that the Kickers needed to score. The teams battled hard in the opening minutes and Toronto showed that they came out to play. In the 39th minute the Kickers suffered a greater setback, one that they would not recover from, when defender Milan Kojic headed in the game winner off of a corner from 7 yards out. Down by an aggregate score of 2-0, Head Coach Leigh Cowlishaw needed goals and at halftime made three offensive substitutions which included Kwaku, Rob Ukrop, and Peter Luzak. Numerous chances were created at the end of the game but Toronto goalkeeper Theo Zagar made three great saves in the final minutes. Zagar's efforts shutout the Kickers once more and helped clinch a spot in the next round of the playoffs.
General Manager Billy Hallock comments on the season ending loss, "Any time you lose it is disappointing, but the loss that ends your season is especially tough. However, we had a great season in 2000 and we have a great corps of players signed for next season already. We will use this off-season to sell sponsorships and tickets as well as to grow our youth club. We're already anxious for the 2001 season to start."
At the start of the season with a new coach in place the Richmond Kickers were ranked 17 out 25 teams by a pre-season coaches poll in Soccer America magazine. The squad however, did not mind being the underdog and had much to prove as the team went on a 13 game win streak in the middle part of the season and held first place in the Atlantic Division for 76 days. The Kickers finished the regular season with the second best record in the league, a 20-7-1 mark, one of only two teams to reach 20 wins. "Not bad for a first year coach," laughs President Tom Depcrynski, "I think you will find that all of the doubters from the beginning of the season are not doubters anymore. Many believed he was too young and lacked experience, but he has proven that he understands American soccer and how to motivate his team. This has been the best group of players we have ever had both on and off the field and with Leigh's hard work and competitive determination we feel it will only get better."
For more info on the Richmond Kickers check out their web site at www.richmondkickers.com and for season ticket information call 644-KICK.