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Eagles Begin First-Ever A-League Season Hosting Charleston At Memorial Stadium


(For immediate release - Charlotte, NC)
Contact Tim Donelli - (704) 841-8644 Ext. 41

The Charlotte Eagles embark on new territory Saturday when they’ll play their first-ever game in the United Soccer League’s highest division, the A-League, in hosting the Charleston Battery at Memorial Stadium at 7:30 PM. Charlotte moved up to the A-League following their first D3 National Championship in 2000.

LAST TIME OUT: The Eagles last played on Saturday, September 9 before an overflow crowd of nearly 5,500 at Providence High School, in winning their first-ever D3 National Championship. The result, a 5-0 shutout win over the top ranked New Jersey Stallions. After a scoreless first half, Midfielder, Jeff Johnson, began the Eagles’ second half, five goal onslaught by scoring the game’s first goal, and ended the night with two twin ticklers. Forward Dustin Swinehart would steal the show however, with a three goal hat trick and game MVP honors. Goalie Dwayne Adams was superb in the playoffs, earning a shutout in the National Championship match and a 1.00 Goals Against Average in four games. After two previous cracks in the USL’S D3 National Championship Match, the Eagles are bridesmaids no more.

EAGLES 2001 PLAYER PREVIEW: The Eagles will begin their first season in the A-League with a host of veterans returning from their D3 National Championship team as well as several impressive newcomers.

Returning Veterans: Forwards Dustin Swinehart, Ryan Leib, and Joey Johnson all return for 2001. Swinehart was Charlotte’s leading scorer last season (13g, 8a for 34 pts) and was a “FirstTeam” All D3 selection. In addition,Dustin scored a three-goal hat trick in the D3 National Championship Final and was named MVP. Midfielders Jeff Johnson, Mark Pinch and Nathan Watkins are also back to give the Eagles good scoring in the middle.The three combined for 15 goals in 18 regular season games last season, while combining for eight goals in Charlotte’s four post-season games. Johnson will start the season on injured reserve and is out for the opener. On defense, second year pro Chris Allen and veteran Matt Miller are the lone returnees. Allen enjoyed a solid rookie season while Miller is the anchor of the Eagles’ defense. Unfortunately, Miller will start the season on injured reserve and is out for the opener.

The Eagles should be set in goal with veterans Dwayne Adams and Neal Andrews back. Adams led the Eagles in their National Championship run, starting and winning all four playoff games while sporting a1.00 GAA. Andrews started 11 games during the regular season for the Eagles, winning seven.

Newcomers: The Eagles landed # 1 draft pick Caleb Norkus from the Tar Heels of North Carolina. A four-year starter at Carolina, Norkus racked up 40 goals and 21 assists for 101 points during his college career. Charlotte’s # 2 pick in the draft, Liberty University’s Jose Gomez, has also been signed. Gomez was a four-year started at Liberty, scoring 32 goals and 14 assists for 78 points for the Flames. Jose ended his college career as Liberty’s third all-time leading scorer. On defense, the Eagles have two strong newcomers in Ben Parry and Kevin O’Brien. Parry, a native of Albemarle, NC, starred at UNCC for the 49ers, and also played for Major League Soccer’s San Jose Clash in 1998. O’Brien returns to Charlotte after playing the 1998 season for the Eagles. A product of the College of Charleston, Kevin has also played with the USL’S Charleston Battery and South Carolina Shamrocks. The Eagles also signed two new international players in Chileans’ Jose Correa and Marcello Gonzalez. Correa, a forward, comes to the Eagles from Coquimbo, a highly ranked First Division Club in Chile. Gonzalez, a midfielder, played last season for Club de Deportes La Serna, a top Division 2 club in Chile. Both players are technically sound and should add another solid dimension to the club.

CHARLESTON BATTERY UPDATE: The Battery (0-1) comes to Charlotte (0-0) Saturday night as one of the favorites to win the 2001A-League championship. Last season Charleston went 18-8-2 and captured the A-League’s Atlantic Division Title. In the playoffs, the Battery advanced to the A-League’s Elite 8 before finally falling to the mighty Rochester Raging Rhinos. The Battery will be led this season by Haitian sensation, Gilbert Jean-Baptiste. A strong defender, Jean-Baptiste was Charleston’s “Rookie of the Year” in 1999. On offense, the Battery will rely on forward, Paul Conway. The Hartwick grad led the A-League in goals scored (17) and points (42) in 2000. Charleston is coached by Alan Dicks. The Battery dropped their regular season opener last weekend on the road at Richmond 2-1.

WHAT’S NEXT: Following Saturday night's home opener against the Battery, the Eagles get set to host the D3 Wilmington Hammerheads in a US Open Cup game next Friday night, April at Memorial Stadium at 7:30 PM. Individual game tickets for all Eagles’ 2001 regular season games are priced at $ 7.00 for adults, and $5.00 for youth ages 6-16. Children 5years of age and under are admitted free of charge. Season tickets for the 2001 season are priced at $80.00 for adults, and $50.00 for youth ages 6-16. Eagles’ season tickets and individual game tickets also include admission to the Charlotte Lady Eagles’ home matches. For ticket information call (704) 841-8644 Ext. 30.

Eagles Website: www.charlotteeagles.com
United Soccer Leagues’ Website: www.uslsoccer.com
Charleston Battery Website: www.charlestonbattery.com

Many Thanks to News Digger John Zukas who scours up all of the local news links during the year.