The Charleston Battery secured a point Saturday in a 1-1 draw with Louisville City FC in front of a packed Patriots Point crowd. Mauro Cichero put the Battery ahead in the first half, but an equalizer in the second half from Enoch Mushagalusa saw the points shared. The Battery will look the build on the result ahead of a stretch of six home games across the next eight.
The action kicked off under a picture-perfect afternoon in the Lowcountry with the Battery eager to get off to a strong start against the Eastern Conference leaders. The day was also noteworthy for Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky, who made his 100th club appearance for Charleston across all competitions.
Andrew Booth found Joe Schmidt in the 4th minute with a cross into the box, with Schmidt’s header attempt going just wide of the left post. Benji Ettienne turned in an admirable defensive showing with two blocks and one interception before coming off in the 22nd minute due to an apparent injury. Aidan Apodaca almost got Charleston on the board in the 25th minute with a shot that went narrowly over the crossbar.
Mauro Cichero opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when the Battery’s pressure paid off. Booth pressed high and intercepted the ball outside the edge of the box as the visitors tried to play out of the back. The midfielder immediately got the ball to Cichero who was waiting at the top of the box, and the Venezuelan forward needed only one touch before firing home the opening tally to the bottom left corner.
The goal was Cichero’s second of the season and was in his second start of the year.
The Battery had a few more opportunities as the half came to a close but the 1-0 score held into the interval. Charleston saw ample progress during the half in possession, as the ball was relatively evenly distributed between the two sides and the Battery out-passed Louisville in the opposition half 107 to 78.
Play resumed with the visitors looking to gain a footing in the match, retaining possession for 70% of the first 15 minutes of the half. Charleston, however, continued to hold Louisville without a shot across a 40-minute period through the halves.
Booth almost doubled the Battery’s lead in the 66th minute on a counter-attack play. Preston Kilwien found Booth on a high ball over the top and Booth punched in a shot that was saved decisively by goalkeeper Kyle Morton. Geobel Perez took a shot a minute later, a close header that went wide of the far post.
Louisville continued to press forward for an equalizer. The visitors broke through in the 73rd minute when Enoch Mushagalusa found the back of the net on a tight window. It was the only ball to get past goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky, who registered five saves on the night.
With all things even, the remaining minutes saw both sides aggressively vying for the go-ahead goal. Louisville nearly did that in 85th minute with a shot from Wilson Harris that rocked off the far post. Louisville continued to send in shots that would either be blocked or off target, but Kuzminsky made a pair of saves in the final minutes of his century-mark day to deny the visitors and secure the 1-1 result.
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey rendered his verdict on the night, stating the squad started the night strong but needed to replicate that form in the second half.
“We created a lot of chances and we pressed them really well the first half,” said Coach Casey. “We had them figured out, we were getting pressure on the ball, we were turning balls over and going forward quickly. Then, in the second half, we weren’t able to really sustain our pressure as much as we would have liked and [Louisville] tipped the things in their favor.”
Nevertheless, Coach Casey commended his side for the grittiness shown in the 1-1 draw against the Eastern Conference leaders.
“The guys fought extremely hard, they dug in to get the point,” said Coach Casey. “We’ll take the point, that’s a very good team in this league, and we’ll take the positives away from it.”
Battery forward Mauro Cichero echoed that sentiment and said his goal demonstrated how persistent pressure can yield results.
“I think that [goal was] the best case scenario, that’s what we want to do,” said Cichero. “We want to press high up the field so we can cover the ball as close to the goal as possible. I think we caught them on a good press, Andrew [Booth] stepped in, the ball fell right to my foot and I took a touch and found the bottom corner.”
Both Coach Casey and Cichero commended the home support throughout the match and their influence on the game.
“Amazing atmosphere from the fans and a full stadium or Family Day, that was incredible,” said Coach Casey. “They really cheered us through those last 10 to 15 minutes when we were under the gun a bit. The drumbeats, seeing the full stands, it was really a great atmosphere tonight for the club.”
“It’s always great to play in front of fans, we all feel very connected with them and we appreciate their support,” said Cichero.
The Battery take the point earned and look to build on it heading into their next match on Wednesday, April 27, away against Birmingham Legion FC. Charleston will then return home on Friday, May 6, to face Memphis 901 FC during Healthcare Heroes Night. Tickets for the May 6 match are available on SeatGeek.com, the club’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.