NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WTKR) – A cold, windy, rainy school night at Christopher Newport University proved to be no problem for Lionsbridge F.C. in its 2022 season opener against USL Two foe Greenville United, winning 3-0 on Wednesday.
Hugo Kadima opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 26th minute, before the wheels of Greenville’s defense came off in the second half by conceding goals to Andrew Bennett and Victor De Souza.
While the result is a welcome sight for head coach Chris Whalley and his staff, the size of the crowd that braved the elements brings more joy to the players, coaches, and front office staff.
According to the team, approximately 800 people were in attendance despite the conditions.
“You’d see the bounce houses if it wasn’t so windy,” says Teresa Kaw-Uh, one of many fans who has followed Lionsbridge FC closely since its inception in 2017.
And therein lies the overall success of the evening for the team and the surrounding community that has embraced this soccer club, being there even when it gets rough.
There are only five professional soccer teams in the state of Virginia: D.C. United in MLS, Loudoun United F.C. in USL Championship Series, the Richmond Kickers in USL One, plus Lionsbridge F.C. and Virginia Beach United in USL Two.
“It’s just an awesome team. The community supports it 100%,” says Greg Gilbert, another longtime fan of the Newport News based team. “We needed something like this in the area big time. Since we don’t have a big pro team, this is the next best thing.”
Already, Lionsbridge F.C. has done what the other teams in the state have not been able to do a lot of, make a spirited postseason run into the USL Two Conference Quarterfinals last season.
The recent uptick in success on the pitch, and in selling tickets consistently, has led to optimism within the club and the fanbase that Lionsbridge F.C. could eventually find itself in USL One, the same class as the Kickers.
More importantly, the team has reached its goals by remaining true to their roots on the Virginia Peninsula, and making everyone involved feel like this is their home.
“(Lionsbridge F.C.) reaches out into the community to help the players,” says Teresa. “We’ve got people that are putting them in their homes and supporting them for the season. They make us feel like family.”
With family bonds as strong as the gusts blowing across the seven cities this week, perhaps Lionsbridge F.C. has another run into postseason play up their sleeve. Their next game is Saturday, May 14th, at Virginia Beach United.