Despite another weekend without a Silverbacks home game, the Cupcake Nation keeps finding ways to entertain themselves with Atlanta soccer. Saturday brought the first-ever game for Georgia State at their new "field" at Panthersville, just down the street from their old field. After spending many years watching the Panthers at many venues around Atlanta (including Panthersville, Pinckneyville, the Forsyth Soccer Complex and Silverbacks Park), I was anxious to see the new complex and one of the best college soccer teams in the country.
I wasn't expecting much from my alma mater, granted that they only managed a single victory last season. However, the addition of former Georgia Perimeter and Liga Lawrenceville U-23 Eduardo "Lalo" Liza piqued my interest, as La Nacion knows this player's game very well.
Upon arrival, I noticed the crowd, which surprised me. It turns out a lot of fans drove down from Clemson, and well, let's just say that the complex was definitely not ready. Despite all of the nice drawings and the fact that field was planned to be ready for last season, there wasn't enough parking, and the complex left a lot to be desired.
These are the grandstands, which certainly would have helped on a day like Saturday, with a massive crowd. Over the years I grew accustomed to having the metal bleachers at Georgia State games, but with all the changes made in the Athletics Department and the move from the Atlantic Sun to the Colonial Athletic Association (one of the top men's soccer conferences in the country), it just won't do anymore.
Add to this the fact that the field is plopped down in the middle of a forest, and it's not going to be pretty. These "nets" look like they are designed to keep shots from going into the forest, but we were joking that they were there to keep bears from running onto the field. After all, why would you put nets up that are only about 6 feet tall?
You may think that I am exaggerating my disgust for things like this, but this is what we're subjected to here in the Atlanta soccer community. The Silverbacks play in an unfinished complex. And that's putting it nicely, when you can easily say it's a construction site. We have a running joke, all stemming from a visit Shoe paid to Silverbacks Park on a weekday a few months ago. He saw 4 construction workers working on the Park, leading him to say that they're the most overworked men in all of Atlanta. I was saying on Saturday that now they're not going to have much time for Silverbacks Park since they've been hired to build the Panthersville facility. I really think that there are more than 4 construction workers in all of Atlanta, somebody please get on this immediately!
Onto the game, which technically was an exhibition. Clemson dominated the first half, easily coming down the right wing on numerous occasions and having the majority of the possession. But Panthers keeper Filipe Carvalho had a number of great saves, and the Panthers took advantage of their best opportunity, as Floreal Pedrazo beat Clemson keeper Joe Bendik midway through the first half to put Georgia State up 1-0.
The second half saw more of the same, with the majority of possession being held by Clemson, but a puzzling change in strategy. They should have learned from the Silverbacks that long balls down the middle rarely work, especially when you're owning the wings. The change resulted in fewer clear opportunities on goal, and the Panthers held on to beat the #12 Tigers.
A big win for sure, but nothing to get too excited about. It was a preseason game, and pales in comparison to the Panthers' 2-1 win at Clemson in 2001. But for a team coming off a one-win season, definitely a step in the right direction.
We decided to celebrate in the only way Cupcake Nation knows how, with Horchata Smoothies from QuikTrip and another long night at the Brewhouse. Needless to say, we'll be spending a lot of time at Georgia State and Georgia Perimeter games this fall, hopefully we'll see you out there and we'll see some major improvements at Panthersville.