Charleston produced a courageous display against the top-seeded Orlando City Lions in the first round of the USL Pro playoffs. Before a crowd of over 7,000, the Battery did battle with Orlando for the fifth time this season. Ending 3-1, the scoreline hardly does justice to the story of the match. Although the result meant the season had ended for Charleston, our own Low Country Boys left the field with pride receiving a "job well done" from the Battery fans.
Charleston Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra earned the title of Blackbaud Player of the Game and he deserved it. The Battery were on the back foot for most of the first half but the Virginia native kept his side in the match. Dykstra recorded an impressive ten saves on the evening, those coming against the league's strongest offensive tandem. The goal came with one minute of regulation in the first half and it was hardly the goalkeeper's fault. An unmarked Orlando played was given the ball with just enough space to tap in the score. Anhaeuser responded immediately with three substitutions at the break. Fresh legs took instant effect and Battery veteran Stephen Armstrong combined with Nicki Patterson to level the score in the 64th minute. Armstrong's corner allowed an unmarked Patterson to head the ball into the net. The goal was Patterson's sixth on the year as he led the team with Dane Kelley. The pacey second half ended as an aggressive Charleston side were unable to secure the game winning goal. In the 98th, Orlando found the net and Charleston suffered doubly as Dane Kelley was sent off moments later with a second yellow card for a challenge to the Orlando City GK. The Battery were victims of poor officiating on the evening. At one point in the match a fan burst onto the field and it took far too long for the referee squad to even realize the event had happened. Regardless, with two minutes remaining in extra time, Orlando scored again putting the game out of Charleston's reach. It was a sad way to end the season, but an admirable performance by your Charleston Battery.
Orlando host the Richmond Kickers this weekend to determine who will clench the American Division title and move on to the league final. The Rochester Rhinos will host the Harrisburg City Islanders to decide the National Division winner.