Battery 3, New Stars 0
Evidently, Darren Spicer has been a striker disguised as a midfielder all season for the Charleston Battery.
Spicer recorded a hat trick in the first half and Keith Wiggans needed just one save to get the shutout as Charleston cruised past the ASC New Stars, 3-0, Tuesday night in the opening round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Blackbaud Stadium.
With the victory, the Battery will take on Charlotte, a 5-2 winner over Clearwater, on June 24 at Blackbaud Stadium in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup.
Spicer, the 2004 Ivy League Player of the Year, played up front nearly all of his collegiate career and had been a prolific goal scorer at Princeton.
His 27 goals and 58 points rank 12th all-time in Princeton history.
"It has been a while since I had a hat trick, probably not since college," Spicer said. "I thought we were pressing well in the first half and moving the ball and I just ended up in the right place at the right time.
"We had some good service into the box all night. I got into a couple of good spots and I was able to finish a couple off, which was great."
Spicer's transition to the midfield has limited his scoring chances this season. Coming into Tuesday night's match, Spicer has just one assist in eight games with the Battery.
"I've always played up front, so this is really the first season I've played out wide," Spicer said. "I'm getting a lot more comfortable out there. I'm learning where to be at the right time and that was the toughest part of moving outside.
"The time you have on the ball at the professional level is so much shorter than college. You've got to make quicker decisions because you don't have all that time to look up and know who to play the ball to. You've got to know before you get the ball."
Battery coach Mike Anhaesuer said despite Spicer's move into the midfield, he expects the former Princeton All-American to be a threat offensively.
"He's been a striker most of his career, but we had a need on the outside and he has filled in very pretty nicely for us," Anhaeuser said. "He certainly brings a lot of offensive firepower to the lineup. He got the end of a couple of nice crosses and then finished a real nice ball for his other goal. You can't ask for much more from a winger."
Anhaeuser said he was glad to see the Battery didn't take the New Stars, an amateur team out of Houston, too lightly.
"We didn't finish off all of our chances, but you look up at the scoreboard and it's 3-0, so that doesn't matter," Anhaeuser said. "This is a tournament and we're moving on and that's all that matters."
The Battery grabbed a 1-0 lead on Spicer's first goal of the night in the 19th minute. David Kenga got the ball on the right side and crossed the ball into the six-yard box. Spicer snapped a header past ASC goalie Emillo Frais for the score.
Spicer's second goal was nearly a carbon copy of his first. This time it was Aaron King who crossed the ball to a wide-open Spicer, who headed it in for the score in 27th minute.
"They were pretty easy goals," Spicer said. "Just a couple of tap-ins really because of the service I was getting out wide. When you have perfect balls like that into the box it makes it pretty easy to score."
Spicer pushed the Battery's lead to 3-0 on a blast from just outside the 18-yard box just a couple of minutes before halftime.
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