No disrespect to the College of Charleston men's soccer team, but Thursday afternoon's scrimmage against the Charleston Battery was an example of professionals versus amateurs.
That's not a metaphor. The Battery players earn a paycheck; the Cougars don't.
Charleston showed its professional experience during the 3-0 exhibition win at Patriots Point. It was the first friendly of a 9-game preseason slate for the defending USL PRO champions.
“They're the Battery. For them, they have to beat us,” College of Charleston coach Ralph Lundy said. “They're the pro team. Obviously, we aspire to beat them.”
Ralphie Lundy, a former Cougars standout vying for a spot on the Battery's roster, referred to the friendly rivalry as “a battle for the city.”
The Battery scattered over a dozen shots on goal throughout the contest, keeping College of Charleston goalkeeper Alex Young busy. Newly signed midfielder Quinton Griffith broke the scoreless tie about midway through the first half.
The speedy 21-year-old Antigua & Barbuda native took a shot from about 35 yards out and found the upper right corner of the goal. Ten minutes later, Jamaican forward Dane Kelly scored on a breakaway attempt, placing the ball low and out of reach from a sliding Cougar defender and a diving Young.
Kelly scored again in the closing minutes on a header off a cross from midfielder Ryan Richter. College of Charleston struggled to launch any shots against the bigger, older Battery players.
It was a surreal experience for Ralphie Lundy, as he played against former teammates on his former home field. “It was definitely weird,” he said. “It was good to play against the boys and see how they're doing. Spring is an important time for them, and I think they're at the top of their training.
“It was good to see them playing hard and playing strong.”
The exhibition match wasn't only about the Cougars getting a taste of elevated competition, though. The Battery had its own agenda.
“We're prepping hard right now too. Every day is a fight for us,” he said. “There's still a ton of players not signed. We're all working towards another championship.”
Lundy said his Battery teammates didn't ask for tips on how to beat the Cougars. “They're more concerned with themselves,” he said. “I gave them a few hints of who to look out for and what to take advantage of.”
Patriots Point isn't a place of nostalgia for Lundy yet. “It hasn't hit me. I'm still fighting for a place on the team,” he said. “So, it's just like any other team I've every played for. You gotta go out there and try to win a spot.”
Lundy's dad, and College of Charleston coach, Ralph Lundy joked that the pair were together before the game but didn't talk about it.
“It was kinda strange with Ralphie,” he admitted and then laughed.
Lundy Sr. has plenty on his plate, besides scouting against his son. The Cougars graduated 10 seniors, seven of which were starters.
“This is a very young team, and I'll tell ya, I think my young players did very good,” he said. “I'm not happy with the result and they're not happy, but we fought and we did okay.”
In particular, the College of Charleston veteran coach praised Young's “great performance” in goal and forward Adam Purvis' intensity.
“They're all very hungry, because so many of them have had to sit behind this senior class,” Lundy said. “We've got a real good attitude on the team.”
Lundy described the Cougars' relationship to the Battery like a sibling rivalry. “Charleston is such a great soccer city, because we got a big brother. And, the Charleston Battery is quality,” he said. “They are an amazing club. They do things right. They run things right. It's so good to have them in town.”
Just like any older brother, the Battery made sure the younger brother knew who was bigger and stronger. And the younger brother fought every step of the way.
Ralphie Lundy said his dad didn't give him any exemptions from the Cougars' persistent fight. “He always wishes me well, but of course, he wants to get a win for his team,” the 22 year old said.
“They're pros,” coach Lundy said. “Just like high school to college, there's a step. College to pro, that's a step – there's no doubt about that.
“I want to win, and we need to score some goals, but we played the Battery.”
Big brother 1, little brother 0.
To view more photos from the game, click here for a gallery.