With Orlando City B just starting to gain momentum, a monkey wrench has been put in the team's way. In preparation for the young Lions' game against the fifth-place Charlotte Independence, they will be without starting goalkeeper Mark Ridgers, who is back home in the U.K. getting married.
The keeper has started eight of the team's 10 games, in which he has made 27 saves and has a goals-against average of 1.28 and a save percentage of 74.4%.
"We have a couple of options in goal," Head Coach Anthony Pulis said after training Thursday, "I haven't completely decided yet what we're gonna do, but I'm sure whoever goes in goal will do a good job for us. Obviously we're going to miss Mark. He's been excellent for us, but I think it was only right for us to let him go back home and get married."
Pulis also mentioned Ridgers' wedding plans were in place even before he signed on with the team in January.
"We knew that this was going to be the case -- that he would be back home and he would miss this game, so we've known about it for a long time," Pulis said.
While it may be poor timing, this could be an opportunity for backup keeper Jake Fenlason to get some minutes. Fenlason, a graduate of Akron, played in 49 games over three years on the collegiate level, recording 17 shutouts. He led the Zips to the NCAA College Cup semifinals, which they lost to the eventual National Champion Stanford. He signed with OCB in February, just two months after his senior season ended.
"It's like every other week," Fenlason said Thursday on his preparation for the coming game. "You never know what's going to happen. They haven't even told me that I'm going to play or not, so it's just keep it the same way; just stay ready. It's the same mindset during the week. I'm always ready to play if needed and if called upon I'm gonna go in and do my job."
Mason Stajduhar, who would normally back up Fenlason, injured his hand recently and has not been at training. In his stead, OCB has gone out and gotten goalkeeper Sean Lewis on loan from the Jacksonville Armada for just this one game on Saturday. Lewis, out of Oakland University, has most recently played professionally in Australia in the NPL Tasmania league, before joining the Armada in February. Earl Edwards Jr. will be unavailable for the OCB match-up since he will be with the MLS side in New York as the backup to Joe Bendik.
For Fenlason, this could be his first ever professional start in goal, though he has gotten minutes for OCB after coming on in the 77th minute of the game against FC Cincinnati, when Ridgers was shown a straight red for a tackle inside the penalty box. Fenlason has also been training with both the MLS and USL sides during this past week in preparation for his possible first start.