The Charleston Battery fell 3-4 to Indy Eleven on Saturday in a seven-goal thriller at Patriots Point. The Eleven tallied four goals in the first half, but the Battery rallied late to score twice in the final 10 minutes in search of leveling the score. Augustine Williams bagged a brace and EJ Johnson scored his first career professional goal. Charleston will look to build on the positives from the match going into their June 11 game against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.
The Battery started the match on the front foot and were regularly present in Indy’s defensive third. Augi Williams registered the first shot on target in the 5th minute which forced goalkeeper Bryan Meredith to make a quick save. On the other end, goalkeeper Daniel Kuzemka, making his professional debut, tallied his first save in the 9th minute on a strong shot by Manuel Arteaga. Charleston continued to hamper Indy with pressure via Kyle Holcomb and Matt Sheldon, however they were unable to convert through 20 minutes.
Indy managed to strike first in the 21st minute when Stefano Pinho scored after Solomon Asante drew Kuzemka off his line for Pinho to tap in the opening tally. The Eleven scored again in the 25th minute when Manuel Arteaga weaved through the box for the goal. Arteaga added another tally minutes later to give Indy a 0-3 advantage through the half-hour mark. The Battery were finally rewarded for their persistence when Williams headed home their first goal of the game. Sheldon played a brilliant ball to Augi from the right side and the striker buried it.
While the Battery found some momentum late in the half, Indy restored their lead when Arteaga scored again in the 37th minute. The half concluded with Charleston holding 57.4% of possession and more passes in the final third than Indy (71 to 35).
Charleston were eager to get back into the match once play resumed. Williams was believed to have had his second goal of the match when he found the back of the net in the opening minute of the half, but the tally was chalked off for offside. The fight from the Battery was noticeable. Charleston were able to limit Indy from making meaningful advances to start the second half, and hosts found more momentum as substitutions entered the match. EJ Johnson, DZ Harmon and Aidan Apodaca helped drive the ball forward in search of chipping away at Indy’s lead.
Apodaca nearly found the goal in the 77th minute after Sheldon worked down the right side for a cross that found Andrew Booth. Booth then played the ball inside the box to Aidan, and Apodaca’s shot was just wide across the face of goal. Williams again found the back of the net in the 84th minute but was again ruled offside by the referee.
The Battery finally broke through again when Johnson scored off a strike from outside the box for his first career professional goal. The Hibernian loanee tucked the ball inside the near post and put enough pace behind the shot to get it past Meredith. In the 92nd minute, Williams scored his second of the night by being at the right place at the right time after a Battery cross made its way to him. The goal was Williams’ fourth of the season.
Indy managed to hold on through the end of stoppage time to secure the three points.
After the match, Assistant Coach Chris Duvall applauded the squad for their resiliency throughout the night. Coach Duvall managed the team after league health and safety protocols rendered Head Coach Conor Casey unavailable due to a positive COVID-19 test prior to the match.
“As a coach, you can only be proud of the fight, the grit, the heart, the desire the team showed to fight back into a game that seemed lost,” said Coach Duvall. “We had two goals taken away from us, that game could have been a one-goal win by us.”
Coach Duvall said the team will look to build upon the positives displayed during the match ahead of the next weekend’s home game.
“There were a few individual mistakes that I think we’d want back, but I think overall a very, very good performance to build off of,” said Coach Duvall. “I think what you take from this is the last 15 to 20 minutes.
“We were struggling to solve some problems on the field, [but] we came into the locker room, we solved them on the tactical board, we solved them through communication. We were miles better in the second half and I think that’s what we can use to drive us forward.”
Battery forward Augustine Williams credited the team’s mentality to bounce back from the early deficit.
“We picked it up back in the second half and then we were able to get back into our rhythm,” said Williams. “Even though we couldn’t get the point, the effort was amazing, and building upon nights like this, I think going forward it will make us better as a team, individually and collectively.”
Williams admitted there are adjustments to make ahead of the next match and is confident in the team’s ability to come back stronger.
“We’ll go back to the film, go back to the pitch, fix those little things and be ready to go,” said Williams. “The effort is there, so we’re just gonna keep fighting until the end and give the fans what they want to make them happy.”
Coach Duvall commended the home support for their strong showing through the final minute of action.
“It’s everything to have the fans behind us because that’s why we do it,” said Coach Duvall. “For the guys here, like scoring a goal in the 90th minute and knowing they’ve got three minutes to get another one, it’s [the supporters] that drive them forward and make [the team] feel like they can do it.”
The Battery will look to build on their scoring as they return to Patriots Point next Saturday for Pride Night and take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Tickets are available now as the club celebrates diversity and inclusivity in the Lowcountry with initiatives throughout the evening supporting local organizations Charleston Pride and We Are Family. Fans can purchase tickets in advance and save via SeatGeek.com, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.