Hickory FC prepares for inaugural game

Hickory’s own soccer team is ready to take the pitch for the first time on Saturday.

The new National Premier Soccer League team takes on Apotheos FC, a team from Atlanta, at Moretz Stadium at 7 p.m.

Hickory FC coaches and players began arriving in town in late April for the team’s first practice on Monday.

Since then, they’ve been practicing with a specific style of play in mind, Head coach Carlos Rubio told the Hickory Daily Record.

It is a strategy that includes pressing the ball for long periods of time, wearing down defenders and pushing the ball forward to break down defenses and create goal scoring opportunities.

CAROLINA ASCENT: Meet Charlotte’s new pro sports team

Rubio and assistant coach Jorge Morales live in the Hickory area, holding similar positions at Lenoir-Rhyne University - Rubio as head coach, Morales as one of his assistants. The other two assistants, Fredy Robayo and goalkeeper coach Fionn Deehan, arrived in Hickory within the last week.

The coaches have only had five days to put that plan together between the team’s first practice and first game. Rubio isn’t worried. He said it is a barrier most National Premier Soccer League teams face since most players are also college students, according to the Hickory Daily Record.

As for opening night, the organization expects a big turnout that will fill Moretz Stadium.

Around 850 season tickets have been sold and they are expecting 2,000 fans tonight, Jonathan Rink, vice president of operations for Hickory FC, told the Hickory Daily Record.

(WATCH: Get to know Charlotte FC’s graphic designer)