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Sunday, May 19, 2024

ICYMI: Lionsbridge FC Home Opener Tonight at TowneBank Stadium

Lionsbridge FC players celebrate after scoring a goal. (Sydney Smith/Lionsbridge FC)

HAMPTON ROADS — Fresh off a trip to the USL League Two National Championship game berth last season, Lionsbridge FC looks to capitalize in 2024.

Lionsbridge opened the 2024 season with a road win over Virginia Beach at the Virginia Beach SportsPlex last Saturday. It faces Grove United at TowneBank Stadium on the campus of CNU at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening.

As the team heads into its seventh year, Mike Vest, co-founder of the team, discussed his outlook for 2024.

“Coming off of last season, it was an incredible year. It didn’t end the way that we all dreamt it would but I think it’s given us a lot of motivation to come back and take one more step forward and it’s wild to think that we were within 30 seconds of sending that National Championship game to extra time,” he said.

“I think we all had the momentum in that game until Ballard scored the game-winner. We’ve spent a lot of time in the very long offseason thinking about what that extra time might have looked like. We’ve come from behind so often, and you try not to dwell on it too much, but it is a great reminder of how close we were to the mountaintop. It’s driving us forward as we look into 2024,” Vest continued.

Returning stars

Lionsbridge will return nine of its starting 11.

“From a soccer side, we’ve got a ton of guys coming back from last year’s team. It is really exciting to see. We will have nine of our starting 11 returning. That’s pretty unheard of in this league, just because of the nature of the league and how quickly rosters turn over. We’re really excited about the players we have coming back. They were all instrumental to our success last year,” Vest said.

Nine of 11 starters will return for Lionsbridge in 2024. (Richard Strickland/Lionsbridge FC)

Returners to the team this season include defenders Charlie Elliott, Dom Foster, Harri Rowe, Adam Kirkwood, George Wyatt, and Davide Materazzi, midfielders David Wrona, Lockie Fay, Josh Baker, and Sam Hall, forwards Christian Hatley and Isaiah Chisolm, and goalkeeper Tyler Hogan.

Support from the fanbase remains strong.

“As we’ve rolled out these player announcements on our social media pages, everyone has been rejoicing. It’s just been a parade of that same rejoicing as we’ve announced each player returning. It’s been amazing to see the reaction on social media of how excited our fans are for this upcoming season,” Vest shared.

Vest and the team have become fixtures in the Hampton Roads community.

“Our fan base and our players have such a close connection. Our players are so visible in the community through all the things that they do off the field. Many of our fans are on a first name basis with many of our players and vice versa. Seeing that kind of continuity is super rare,” Vest said.

2024 Season

The team begins its preseason on May 6 and kicks off its season opener on May 11, and much of what the community knows and loves about Lionsbridge will stay the same.

Home games will continue to offer the assortment of food trucks and bounce houses fans have come to expect. Chick-fil-A returns with its free chicken sandwich promotion for goals scored on a header, fireworks nights are scheduled for May 26, June 15, July 3, plus halftime contests, summer camps and more are on tap.

“These are part of our tradition now. This is what fans have come to love about our games. We’ve always aimed for it to be the most family-friendly experience that you could possibly have, and it’s not just a soccer game, but really an event,” Vest said.

Lionsbridge faithful will continue to root on the team in 2024. (Richard Strickland/Lionsbridge FC)

Lionsbridge will also commemorate a special celebration this season as the team welcomes its 100,000th fan.

“That’s just incredible to me, when you really think about that being a culmination and one of the most visible milestones you can think of from a level of fan support. It’s crazy to think that 100,000 people will have come through the ticket gate to come see Lionsbridge FC play. It’s pretty special,” Vest said.

2024 schedule

Lionsbridge home opponents this year include Grove United, Greenville United, Charlottesville Blues FC, Ashland Town FC, D.C. United U23, Northern Virginia FC, Patuxent FA, Ole Sporting FC, Christos FC, Virginia Beach United, and Virginia Marauders FC.

Lionsbridge away opponents this year include Virginia Beach United, Virginia Marauders, Northern Virginia FC, Charlottesville Blues FC, Christos FC, Richmond Kickers, and Patuxent FA.

For more information on tickets and the team, visit lionsbridgefc.com.

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