Monday, May 20, 2013

Dynamo Defused!! Houston Reserves 0-1 Charleston

The Charleston Battery vaulted back into second place in the USL Pro standings with a resplendent performance Sunday morning, defeating the Houston Dynamo Reserves at BBVA Compass Stadium.  Making a strong argument for the virtues of lower division soccer, the Battery toppled arguably the best  Reserve Squad in the country (on their own turf), handing them their first loss of the season.

Although faced with a daunting road trip and a minor injury crisis, Charleston took the pitch as if they owned it.  Defender Taylor Mueller nearly opened the scoring in the 4th minute, but his headed shot arched over the crossbar.  And it was the Battery defense that kept things level, squelching several Dynamo attempts in the early going.  Momentum swung dramatically in favor of the visitors just after the quarter hour mark.  Springboarding from a critical stop by Odisnel Cooper, it was nearly all Charleston for the remainder of the half.  Jose Cuevas pulled the trigger before an open net in the 16th minute, but his effort sailed just wide.  Entering into a brilliant spell of possession, the Battery harried Houston's defense in a shot-a-minute term leading up to the half hour mark.  On 30 minutes, the Dynamo managed a lightning-counter and forced a fine punch save from Cooper.  However, Captain Colin Falvey collided aerially with the lunging goalie and was temporary removed from play in what proved to be a harmless but scary moment for Battery fans.

The eventual breakthrough would come in the 35th minute, as Charleston scored with play resulting from a free kick in Houston's defensive third.  Cuevas slotted the set piece to an advancing Emmanuel Adjety.  Crossing quickly, Dane Kelly was given the ball and room to work with.  The crafty Jamaican promptly put the Battery in front with a low shot to the far post.  Houston took the sucker-punch in stride and forced another save from Cooper within a minute of the goal.  However, long bouts of possession allowed Charleston to maintain the upper hand.

The second half was another chapter of the same story, with Charleston bossing the show by patient possession, running rings round their opponents.  The Dynamo certainly managed plenty of pressure, but the Battery defense was equal to the task.  In the final ten minutes of play, Houston's attack intensified with Brian Ching leading the charge, but Cooper held firm and recorded a handful of clutch saves to preserve all three points for Charleston.

This is an incredible result for the Battery and its no small thing for Charleston to dent the Dynamo Reserves' perfect record.  Now sitting firmly in second place in the standings, the Battery are well positioned to reset the bar in the USL Pro table.  The boys fly out of Houston this morning for Portland and the Timber's U-23's in their Tuesday night Open Cup tangle.  Thanks to the efforts of CHSSoccer.net, the Timbers have agreed to stream the match from JELD-WEN field.  With such a short turnaround and a good deal of travel time, the game will ask some serious questions about Charleston's depth and Cup credentials.  But if you ask me, I'm confident its another test we'll pass with flying colours!!

Oh and if you missed the Sunday morning match, the fine folks in Houston have already uploaded the full stream to YouTube!


(photo credit: Dynamo facebook)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mixed Results in the Southern Derby

While a washing machine on the fritz and a host of other complications kept me from the computer this week, I always assume soccer news is better late than never!  With that being said, lets take a look at the past week for the Charleston Battery.

Charleston 4-2 Wilmington

Taking the game by the scruff of the neck, the Battery lit up the scoreboard in only the second minute of play!  Nicki Paterson supplied Dane Kelly and with the Jamaican's sparkling finish, the pair made sure all 3,699 fans were on their feet (whether they'd found their seat or not!).  Ten minutes later, Paterson notched a goal of his own, scoring his third in as many games, with an unstoppable missile.  Charleston continued the one-way traffic, netting another in the 21st minute.  This time it was Zach Prince who pounced on a loose ball and curled a shot just inside the far post netting.  Unsatisfied with three, the Battery would score again on the half hour, as John Wilson solidified his role as on-field legend.  Receiving a precision pass from Quinton Griffith, Wilson rifled a shot with his swinger and found the mark from a distance of about 30 yards.  There's scarcely been a more productive spell for the Charleston Battery, but it would prove to be only part of the story.  

It was truly a tale of two halves, and the Hammerheads took the pitch with something to prove.  A renewed Wilmington side was led by Paul Nicholson who scored twice in six minutes in the 53rd and 59th.  Sniffing an epic comeback, the visitors pressed harder than ever and an already physical contest would soon go progress to ejections.  Charleston's Cody Ellison was shown red for his role in a scuffle in the 69th minute and Wilmington's centre back Gareth Evans was dismissed only three minutes later. The discipline certainly deflated the tension a bit, but would not prevent the Hammerheads from forcing a good save from Odisnel Cooper and rattling the crossbar before it was all over.  

Charleston's impressive offensive showcase in the first half was followed by an equally solid defense performance in the second.  Given their recent form, most would be impressed by the fight in the fatigued Hammerheads squad and I'd say it was one of their best outings this season.  Continuing to climb in the USL Pro table, the Battery also bagged their first points in the 2013 edition of the Southern Derby.

Charlotte 1-0 Charleston 

With a rare Tuesday fixture, the boys traveled north to lock horns with long-time rivals the Charlotte Eagles in the second installment of the Southern Derby saga.  The in-form Eagles are flying high this season as they stand alone with Richmond as the only undefeated teams in USL Pro.  And with only four goals allowed (1st in the league) Mark Steffen's defense surely means business.  

While it may not have been described as beautiful, the match featured some hard-nosed, quality play from both sides.  Chances on goal were certainly few, but Charlotte had the first opportunity, firing high in a corner kick scramble ten minutes on.  The Battery responded with a fine volley off a Charlotte clearance in the 18th minute.  Emmanuel Adjety placed the ball well, but his shot was found firmly lodged in the side netting.  It wasn't long before the game evolved into a war of attrition, as both teams locked into defensive formations.  The breakthrough would come in the 65th minute when Charleston surrendered a free-kick just outside the penalty area.  Eagle's defender Shaun Francis took the kick, skirted the wall, and beat Cooper to put Charlotte in front.  The Battery countered immediately with offensive substitutions and chased the game for the rest of the match.  In the final ten minutes, Charleston managed a few good scoring chances but were unable to make them count.  

The loss in Charlotte is certainly a frustrating one, but should not be a great discouragement.  The Battery played well but were punished for a momentary defensive lapse.  Perhaps worse than the result was the injury to Amadou Sanyang early in the first half.  Having already suffered a concussion in preseason, taking the hard knock on Tuesday was undoubtedly the last thing he needed.  

The Battery look forward to another busy week traveling to face the Houston Dynamo Reserves in inter-league play at BBVA Compass Stadium Sunday morning.  The Pride of the Lowcountry will then fly out of Houston and head for Portland, Oregon to take on the Timber's U-23's in the Open Cup Tuesday night.  Its a lot to ask of any team, but we have high hopes and I don't expect those hopes will be disappointed in either affair.  Here we go boys!!

Up the Battery!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Its Finally Here! Open Cup Kickoff!!

(photo credit: TheCup.US facebook)
One hundred years of US Soccer have led to this...the Centennial edition of the the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.  Without a doubt, the nation's longest standing athletic tournament, the Open Cup is one of the purest, most exciting competitions you'll find anywhere in the wide world of sports.  Prone to historic upsets and Cinderella stories, I've always found myself cheering for the little guys, even if they're up against a team I would normally root for.

The Charleston Battery are no strangers to success in the Cup, and have made quite a name for themselves as giant-killers, in their own right.  In 1999, the Battery topped DC United 4-3 in an extra-time thriller.  Two years later, the Pride of the Lowcountry drubbed the New York MetroStars 4-1 at Blackbaud Stadium.  Charleston are one of the only lower division sides to ever make an appearance in the final stage of the tournament, falling 2-1 in heartbreaking fashion to DC United in 2008.  Perhaps my favorite Battery Open Cup match was the 3-1 rout of Chivas USA in Charleston...Not only did Charleston net three fantastic goals, the goats were so upset at their own manhandling that by the end of game they started a fight and several of their players were ejected with only seconds to play.

The powers that be have made it clear that another successful Open Cup run is a priority for the Charleston Battery this year, and with a huge bundle of cash and Champion's League spot up for grabs, why not??  Unfortunately, as its slated up, May is one of Charleston's busiest months in terms of fixture congestion, but it will interesting to see how the pieces come together when the Battery enter the fray in the second round.  For an in-depth analysis of how Charleston enters the draw, check out CHSSoccer.net.

But first things first.  Technically, the dance has already begun.  Two play-in matches took place Tuesday night to determine the final field in the first round.  In typical Open Cup style, even these preliminary matches were high scoring nail-biters.  FC Hasental (NPSL, and yes their crest bears a rabbit) downed the Fresno Fuego Future with four straight goals as the match finished 5-3.  Interestingly enough, the other match finished 5-3 on PK's, as the Georgia Revolution (also NPSL) squeaked by the Colorado Rovers after extra time.  If you haven't already seen it, here's a look at the first round of play:


FIRST ROUND SCHEDULE

May 14Mass Premier Soccer (USASA) at GPS Portland Phoenix (PDL)8 p.m. ETMemorial Field, Deering High School;
Portland, Maine
May 14Icon FC (USASA) at Brooklyn Italians (NPSL)8 p.m. ETAviator Sports Complex;
Brooklyn, N.Y.
May 14New York Red Bulls U23s (NPSL) at Ocean City Nor'easters (PDL)7:30 p.m. ETCarey Stadium;
Ocean City, N.J.
May 14FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic (NPSL) at Reading United AC (PDL)7 p.m. ETDon Thomas Stadium;
Reading, Pa.
May 14Ocala Stampede (PDL) at Red Force (USASA)7:30 p.m. ETFlorida International Soccer Stadium;
Miami, Fla.
May 14VSI Tampa Bay FC (USL PRO) at Orlando City U-23s (PDL)7 p.m. ETSeminole Soccer Complex;
Sanford, Fla.
May 14Chattanooga FC (NPSL) at Carolina Dynamo (PDL)7 p.m. ETMacpherson Stadium;
Greensboro, N.C.
May 14Dearborn Stars (USASA) at Michigan Bucks (PDL)7:30 p.m. ETUltimate Soccer Arenas;
Pontiac, Mich.
May 14RWB Adria (USASA) at Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL PRO)7 p.m. ETHighmark Stadium;
Pittsburgh, Pa.
May 14River City Rovers (PDL) at Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO)7 p.m. ETBeavercreek High School;
Beavercreek, Ohio
May 15Madison 56ers (NPSL) at Des Moines Menace (PDL)7:30 p.m. CTValley Stadium;
West Des Moines, Iowa
May 14NTX Rayados (USASA) at Austin Aztex (PDL)7:30 p.m. CTHouse Park;
Austin, Texas
May 14Phoenix FC (USL Pro) at FC Tucson (PDL)7:30 p.m. Arizona TimeKino Sports Complex Grandstand;
Tucson, Ariz.
May 14Sacramento Gold (NPSL) vs. Portland Timbers U23s (PDL)7:30 p.m. PTJELD-WEN Field;
Portland, Ore.
May 14Doxa Italia (USASA) at Sounders FC U23s (PDL)7 p.m. PTSunset Chevrolet Stadium;
Sumner, Wash.
May 14PSA Elite (USASA) at Laredo Heat SC (PDL)8:15 p.m. CTTexas A&M International Soccer Complex;
Laredo, Texas
May 14Real Colorado Foxes (PDL) at Georgia Revolution (NPSL)7 p.m. ETRYSA Soccerplex;
Conyers, Ga.
May 14FC Hasental (NPSL) at Ventura County Fusion (PDL)7 p.m. PTVentura College;
Ventura, Calif.

There are a handfull of oddballs from smaller conferences and associations and its always nice to have those wildcard darkhorse teams to spice things up.  You'll also notice there are several representatives from the ever-expanding grassroots league, the National Premier Soccer League.  Of course there are several PDL clubs in the mix and even a few USL Pro squads in the first round.  Here are the teams to keep your eye on:

Ocean City Nor'easters: Ever the underdog, these boys understand what the tourney is all about.  In a previous USOC tangle with DC United, their fans managed to intimidate the screaming eagles and only just fell short of a glorious upset.  

Reading United AC:  The Battery hosted this side last year and the PA squad can be tough competition.  Reading's alumni have really begun to go places...we're talking MLS and beyond.

Chattanooga FC:  These boys are known for quality football and their supporters, the Chattahooligans are largely responsible for inciting a football culture revolution in Middle Tennessee.  Nos vemos, El Conductor!!

Michigan Bucks:  Drawing on a wealth of college talent, the Bucks have won the PDL title and had an excellent run in the Cup last year.  Don't be surprised if they knock off a few big names this go around.  

I love this competition and what it means for the Beautiful Game in America.  I'm practically beside myself with anticipation!  Let it begin!  Let it begin!!

Who will be the next to lift the Cup??  I can't wait to find out!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Heinemann Lifts 'Caps in Canadian Cup

Passing quietly under the North American soccer radar, former Charleston Battery forward Tom Heinemann did some heavy lifting to push the Vancouver Whitecaps into the Amway Canadian Cup Final last week.  Toppling FC Edmonton in a two-leg semi, the Caps move on to battle Montreal for the Canadian title and a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Heinemann netted the game winning goal, deep into stoppage time as the first legged ended 3-2.  He was also heavily involved in the 'Caps productive offensive in the successive 2-0 win, proving instrumental in forcing an own goal.  Since his early career this personable striker has had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and these days its earning him more minutes in Vancouver.  Combined with the goal scoring exploits of fellow USL product Cory Hertzog, the Whitecaps are becoming potent example of the talent USL athletes can bring to the table.

But don't take my word for it...see what the editors over at MSL Soccer had to say about Charleston's beloved "Wildman."  And you may wanna check out his game-winning goal while you're at it:





(photo credit: Whitecaps facebook)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Double Deuce!!

Two games.  Three goals.  Six Points.

The Charleston Battery passed their first real road test with flying colors, coming home with all six points and confidence to spare after last week's fixtures at Harrisburg and Dayton.  Improving to fourth in the league table, Charleston lengthen their current winning streak to four games.  Here's how it all happened:

Harrisburg City 1-2 Charleston

The Battery rolled into Harrisburg last Wednesday with the difficult task of unseating one of the only unbeaten teams in the league.  The City Islanders were still riding the high of walloping Rochester 5-1 in their home opener and looking to make that momentum count when Charleston came to town.

After a bizarre delayed kickoff on account of some athletic tape, the first few minutes of the match were rather tame.  Seemingly out of nowhere, Mark Wiltse sent a hopeful cross far along the pitch, eyeing Mike Azira.  The Ugandan met the ball with a flawless volley, dropping it just inside the top right corner of the net.  With no attempts at modesty, this goal was highlight reel material...I don't mean 'Goals of the Week'...I'm thinking contender for goal of the season at least!  Stunning the fans, the players, and likely the officiating crew, the game took a different tack after Azira's 10th minute golazo.  Charleston were in the ascendency and effectively bossing the show.  The visitor's repeatedly made foray's into the Harrisburg final third and kept Nick Noble (who's no netminding greenhorn) on his toes for the better part of the evening.

In the 38th, the Battery were awarded a penalty following a handball inside the box and Nicki Paterson skillfully converted.  For a moment the goal was adjudged to be wide, as Paterson's powerful placement burst the seems of the net, but a correct call was soon to follow.  Harrisburg were able to pull a goal back just before the break when Hernandez picked his spot and arched a 20 yard shot.  And while it was a quality strike, Odisnel Cooper seemed to be obscured by his own defender and the resulting reaction was unequal to Hernandez' delivery.

The second half would prove much like the first, continuing to flatter the Charleston Battery.  To their credit, the Islanders fought hard for the equalizer, but Charleston were content to maintain possession, hold their defensive shape, and blitz their hosts with furious counterattacks.  Without making the scoresheet, Dane Kelly had another impressive performance registering a number a chances while harrying the Islander's back line for most of the match.  Quinton Griffith was also key in Charleston's assault, and his pace caused more than a few problems for his markers.

Check out all the goals from the match...but especially Azira's strike!




The real lesson learned against Harrisburg is that the Charleston Battery are very versatile and capable of adapting to a multitude of styles of play.  They certainly had their work cut out for them, but the 2-1 win over the Islanders is a fantastic result.  The great news is, the winning didn't stop there...

Dayton 0-1 Charleston

Despite a reverse at the hands of Orlando City, the Dayton Dutch Lions have been enjoying a run of good form this season.  Continuing to grow and strengthen, the young franchise has high hopes for their third USL Pro season, and when the Battery came to town, the mood was optimistic to say the least.  

Charleston started well and had a near miss in the 8th minute.  The match began to open up and the hosts created a few chances of their own.  Goalkeeper Kevin "Godzilla" Klasila earned his first start of the season and did well between the sticks.  In the 33rd minute, Charleston had the good fortune of earning yet another handball-penalty decision.  It goes without saying, Paterson stepped to spot and put the Battery in front.  Surprisingly, it was to be the game's only goal.  

In the second half, a reserved Battery side looked comfortable riding the one-goal lead in the face of heavy pressure from the Dutch Lions.  Klasila logged five saves on the evening and with Falvey and Mueller in the center, Charleston's defense seemed as resolute as ever.  Emmanuel Adjetey did some fine work of his own, carving up a few chances for the visitors.  For the all their determination, Dayton's attack was toothless in the finish, and Charleston would climb onto the bus with a neat six points in their pockets.  

With several players out of action due to injury, the Battery demonstrated their depth in the tie against the Dutch Lions.  While it might not have been the most heart-pounding, goal scoring match of the season, winning two road games in only three days is an accomplishment for anyone.  Charleston host the Wilmington Hammerheads this Saturday in Blackbaud's Kick for the Cure, a fun annual initiative in the fight against breast cancer.  Oh yeah... and its the first match of the Southern Derby!!!  So be sure to cheer for the boys either in the stands or on the livestream!  

Up the Battery!!!



(photo credit: USL Pro facebook)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Azira Brace Buries Riverhounds, Charleston 2-0 Pittsburgh

After the final whistle Saturday night, the exhausted Pittsburgh Riverhounds weren't the only ones panting for breath.  Lead official Dustin Thorne had his work cut out for him with this gritty matchup, and with foul counts well into the twenties, I'd bet he was tired of the sound of his own whistle before it was all over.  Even though it may have been an "ugly win", Charleston finished the evening with all three points, and it'll do to be going on with.

The Riverhounds entered Blackbaud having suffered a 2-0 reverse the night before at the hands of the unbeaten Charlotte Eagles.  Perhaps their squad was a bit fatigued but Pittsburgh coach (and former Battery player) Justin Evans had no intentions of making life easy for Charleston.  The home team carried possession in the opening stages of the match, earning a pocketful of free kicks.  When the Riverhounds began to push back, the Battery held firm as skipper Colin Falvey and veteran defender John Wilson both recorded a couple of nice digs.  In the 13th minute, Charleston earned another free kick deep into Pittsburgh territory.  Salvaging an attacking throw-in, the Battery managed a chance on goal, but Paterson's header was wide of the mark.

Things began to get dicey in the middle of the park and neither team pulled their punches in terms of meaty challenges.  Jamaican speedster Dane Kelly earned a free kick just outside the box, but Paterson's lightning strike was pawed over the bar by the College of Charleston product, keeper Hunter Gilstrap.  The Battery would see a corner kick effort put just wide of the goal in the 20th, and the first of three Pittsburgh players, Mike Seth, finally received a yellow card for a cheap foul a minute later.  In the 24th, Wilson air-mailed a cross into the box which was deflected high above an open net, as the Pittsburgh players lost track of the ball's trajectory.  However, one Mike Azira was on hand to tidily nod home the wandering ball, giving the home side the advantage in what had so far been a hotly contested affair.

Jarad Van Schaik lifted a super-cross near the half hour mark, but Zach Prince's hurried volley soared wide.  Moments later Prince found himself scythed down in an awful challenge by Pittsburgh's Motagalvan, warranting the game's second yellow.  The visitors soon pressured Charleston and Odisnel Cooper tallied a fine punching clearance from a Riverhound's corner.  With about five minutes to play, Falvey was forcefully struck and play was halted for a moment.  The skipper was unwilling to leave the pitch, and the Battery created a few more opportunities before the break.

Pittsburgh introduced two substitutes at the restart, but the Battery continued to carry momentum with Kelly nearly scoring in the 46th.  The Riverhounds would soon turn the tables, narrowly missing the net from a set piece, and then striking the crossbar shortly after.  But as the half wore on, Charleston were able to resettle and maintain possession once more.

Winning the ball on the left flank, Prince charged into the box.  Slipping the ball back with expert timing, Prince allowed Azira to collect his brace with a thunderous shot from close range.  Gilstrap was beaten all ends up and the ball was punched into the roof of the net.

Surprisingly, Pittsburgh showed more fight after the score than at any other point in the game.  Cordoves relieved Kelly who had quietly had a fantastic evening.  Adjety, on loan from Vancouver, came on for Prince late in the game and showed real promise in kind with 'Caps loanee Ben Fisk.  The final ten minutes of the fixture were probably the most exciting of the game.  The  run of play was swift and uninterrupted, real end to end stuff.  In the 82nd, Paterson fed Wilson into the final third and a sliding Azira nearly bundled home his cross for a hat trick.  The rebound shot was popped wide right by Griffith.  After the miss, Pittsburgh threw everything at the Battery, forcing some good work from Cooper in goal as well as several close clearances by Charleston's backline.  In the end, it was hardly enough, and the home side totaled their second consecutive clean sheet.    

Grit and discipline aside, the story of the match was unquestionably the opportunistic talents of the Battery's Ugandan starlet, Mike Azira.  A dependable player in Charleston's 2012 title run, the young footballer looks even sharper than last season.  Obviously scoring the winning goal of the USL PRO title match will always be a career highlight, but this young man has plenty more glory in store!!

Looking ahead, Charleston go on the road this week to face the in-form Harrisburg City Islanders Wednesday night and then skip over to challenge the Dayton Dutch Lions Friday, only to turn around and defend their title in Charleston's Dragonboat competition Saturday morning!  The Battery will have their hands full in Harrisburg who recently demolished Rochester 5-1 in a historic home opener in Pennsylvania.  Charleston will be without the services of Jose Cuevas and Ben Fisk for this road trip.  However, the club have just announced their agreement with the Vancouver Whitecaps for the loan of Midfielder Bryce Alderson, who will be available for selection this week.

With a whopping six league matches in the month of May, not to mention an interleague fixture with the Houston Dynamo and of course the Lamar Hunt Open Cup, roster depth and keeping the boys fresh will be critical in the coming weeks.  But the great news is, no matter what happens, Battery fans will have a month full of football!!



photo credit: Battery facebook page




Thursday, April 25, 2013

Open Fire!! Charleston 4-0 Antigua

The Charleston Battery got the ball rolling in the right direction, delivering a big win over Antigua in their home opener Saturday night.  The good guys netted four unanswered goals before a delighted home crowd of 4,546 at Blackbaud Stadium.  Prior to the match, team owner Tony Bakker presented the returning players with their 2012 Championship rings, as the Regiment proudly displayed their new banner, encompassing nearly the entire E10 section.  The win effectively rinsed out the bad taste of last week's loss to Richmond and the Battery can now set their sights on a firm USL PRO title defense in 2013.

At the opening whistle, Charleston were chomping at the bit and wasted no time in putting the Barracudas under pressure.  Having played at Wilmington the night before, the fatigued Antigua squad did their best to keep the hosts at bay, but the night was largely characterized by the Battery's goal-seeking offensive endeavors.

It was a nervy opening for the visitors and Charleston were unlucky to avoid the scoresheet in the first five minutes.  Nicki Paterson's screamer rose just over the bar in the 4th minute, followed by a good crack from former Barracuda, Quinton Griffith.  Cordoves and Azira joined the fray as well, taking full advantage of Antigua's shaky defense.  In the 11th minute, Paterson played in for Griffith who instantly smashed the ball into the net.  However, the joy was short lived as the play was ruled offside.  Moments later Cordoves followed suit, with his would-be goal dismissed for an even tighter infringement.  The Battery were on the front foot and it seemed they were managing nearly a shot a minute.  The breakthrough would come in the 21st minute when Ben Fisk lobbed an early ball, springing Antigua's offside trap.  Collecting the cross, Cordoves cooly drove a low shot past the keeper into the bottom left corner of the net...this time with no whistle.  "And the crowd goes wild!!"  Two minutes later, Fisk called his own number and tallied his first goal (of many!) in a Battery shirt.  Receiving the ball in the midfield, the youngster from Vancouver tore down the left flank and burned the Antigua defense like a jet-puffed marshmallow.  His low shot to the far post put the home fans in a frenzy.  Fisk managed another fine breakaway moments later and Charleston eventually earned a corner from the play.  On the half hour, Cordoves spurned a chance on an open goal as he failed to hit the target from close range.  In the 32nd, Patterson nodded in a magnificent diving header only to have the goal reversed by yet another dubious offside ruling.  The Battery went into the break content and yet frustrated, as their 45 minutes of target practice could have resulted in a 5-0 deficit.

Only seconds after the restart, Griffith was shown a yellow card for an aggressive challenge on the Barracuda's keeper.  Thankfully, after convincing the official of the "severity" of the foul, Antigua's number two in goal seemed to be just fine.  The visitor's suddenly began pressuring Charleston, looking sharp on the offensive, but the push forward led to a counterattack by the Battery.  In the 51st, Fisk threaded in a ball for Paterson and with a fine effort, the Scotsman found the net...only to have the goal ruled offside again.  Odisnel Cooper logged a top-drawer save in the 54th, only just nudging the ball past the post from full stretch.  They don't this Cuban net-minder "El Gato" for nothing!  Antigua were now clearly spent and Charleston resumed the offensive.  In an excellent run of play in the 65th minute, Cordoves rattled the crossbar and Nicki Paterson's rebound effort missed by inches.  Antigua's keeper had faced a firing squad already, but things were about to go from bad to worse.  Dane Kelly and Zach Prince came on for Cordoves and Fisk (the man of the match) and their impact was felt immediately.  What could have been described as a barrage had now become a full-fledged cannonade.  Prince earned free kick after being battered just outside the 18 and with Patterson and Griffith subbed off, he took the set piece himself.   Despite a blatant hand ball, Charleston were awarded a corner for their efforts.  In the 78th, Kelly neatly converted Prince's corner to put the Battery three goals in the clear.  To their credit, Antigua forced the issue and pressured the hosts to claw back some dignity, but the final nail in the coffin came five minutes from time.  Prince found the ball in acres of space and buried the ball with a highlight reel finish.

Any remaining doubt from Charleston's humbling defeat to the Kickers was dashed to pieces with the frenzied 4-0 landslide win and the post-match fireworks were well deserved.  The Battery host Pittsburgh this Saturday and will look to build on their momentum from last week.  The Riverhounds are winless in three and will be keen to get their first points of the season.  Oddly enough, the visitors have strong ties to the Lowcountry.  Pittsburgh's head coach, Justin Evans, served with the Battery in 2002 and the Riverhound's Renaissance man, Jason Kutney, (administrator, owner, and midfielder!) also spent time with Black and Yellow as well.  Taking a road swing through the Carolina's, Pittsburgh will first face the Charlotte Eagles on Friday.  While the deck is certainly stacked in Charleston's favor, they will again be without the services of Jose Cuevas, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury.  I simply can't wait for another Battery game and our boys look primed to work their magic Saturday night at Blackbaud.  I'm not sure about you, but my money's on Nicki Paterson to find the first goal of the game...if not the first three!!


Also, check out the post below for first half highlights and a look at the Regiment's sweet new tifo!

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