By John Nugent firstname.lastname@example.org
DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) Charleston Battery rookie midfielder Austin Savage is a smart kid, known for using his head, and it served the Summerville native well last month in Portland when he scored his first professional goal against the Timbers.
"I saw Jose -- he gave me a look up and I just made sure I was onside," recalls the Stratford High School graduate. " I timed my run, got my head into it, and it went in. Everybody was happy for me, everybody congratulated me, it was amazing."
"It's a fantastic story," says his proud Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser. "He held his defender off, who was about six-foot-two and anybody who knows Austin knows he's not six-foot-two! He headed it and looped it over the goaltender, it was one of those great finishes."
Savage is a great story because he is the first product of the Battery's Development Academy team to earn a contract.
"I've been coming to games since I was seven years old. It's amazing to be out here and have this opportunity," said a thankful Savage.
Scoring goals for Savage has never been an issue. While at Stratford he scored a school record 113 times. And then while playing for the Clemson he added another 24 goals, leading the Tigers in scoring his junior and senior seasons.
"He has that knack for scoring goals," says Anhaeuser. "When we get goals from players all over the field it's great because it makes it difficult for teams to defend us."
Last year's USL PRO rookie of the year Jose Cuevas is also impressed with his rookie teammate.
"He's a team first kind of guy," said the upbeat Cuevas. "Always asking what he can do for the team. Off the field he's a good kid and on the field he's a great player, always looking to learn and improve."
So how does a kid who is a native of football crazy Summerville and attended another football power at Stratford not end up playing football for veteran Head Coach Ray Stackley?
"Actually a couple of coaches did ask if I could kick," recalls Savage. "But back then it was different."
The only thing different now for Savage is he gets paid to do what he does best.
"I enjoy every moment of it and when you enjoy and love what you do it's not work - it's just fun," Savage said.