The Charleston Battery earned a hard-fought point Friday in a dramatic 3-3 draw with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. The Battery twice held the lead via goals from Geobel Perez (5’) and Augustine Williams (52’), but Switchbacks FC managed to level the score twice before pulling ahead in the 77th minute. Charleston rallied late when AJ Paterson scored in stoppage time off a free-kick to salvage a point on the evening.
The evening started with both sides eager to make their mark early on the match. The Battery opened the scoring in the 5th minute when Geobel Perez cut through Colorado Springs and found the back of the net from just outside the box. Enock Kwakwa was credited for the assist, his first of the season, on Geobel’s second goal of the season. The goal was Charleston’s sixth within the first 15 minutes of a match in 2022, the second-most in the USL Championship.
Switchbacks FC looked to level the score following Geobel’s goal with their up-tempo offense. After a couple of close looks, the hosts leveled the score in the 24th minute when Elvis Amoh tapped in a cross from inside the box by Michee Ngalina. Charleston were holding Colorado Springs’ advances to that point, but were unable to preserve the lead during that sequence.
Battery goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux came up big late in the first half with a pair of saves in quick succession, once a kick-save against Hadji Barry inside the box in the 35th minute and a diving save against Ngalina in the 36th minute. Both clubs pressed forward for a breakthrough goal in the waning moments of the half, but the 1-1 scoreline held into the break after an evenly-contested first 45 minutes.
Play resumed with the intensity picking up right where it left off. The Battery again struck early in the half when Augustine Williams directed Charleston’s second goal of the night, assisted by Charlie Asensio, in the 52nd minute. The goal is Williams’ 10th of the season, making him the first Battery player to notch double-digit goals since 2018 (Ataullah Guerra, 15), and came during his 150th regular season USL Championship appearance.
The middle portion of the second half would prove to be a fortunate one for the hosts. Barry found an equalizer in the 72nd minute following a through ball that cut through the Battery defense and the Switchbacks No. 10 tucked his shot inside the near post. In the 76th minute, the hosts were awarded a spot attempt after Joe Schmidt was issued a yellow card inside the box. Jairo Henriquez converted the penalty a minute later despite Fauroux guessing correctly on which side to dive for.
The Battery, however, were undeterred and continued to press for a goal to salvage a point. The build-up play from Asensio and Robbie Crawford, the latter making his first 2022 appearance for the club, helped drive the visitors forward. Williams came close in the 86th minute with an attempt deep inside the box that went wide. Switchbacks FC believed they scored the game-sealing goal in the 89th minute, but Ngalina was flagged for offside in the build-up.
Heroics arrived in the second minute of stoppage time when AJ Paterson scored on a free-kick from roughly 25 yards out, banging the shot off the crossbar and into the back of the net. The captain’s strike left no chance for goalkeeper Christian Herrera or Switchbacks FC’s five-wide wall. Paterson’s dramatic equalizer, assisted by Perez who teed the ball up at the start, was his first goal since 2019.
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey and defender AJ Paterson discussed the match after the final whistle with their quotes to follow:
Coach Casey on the squad’s performance tonight…
I thought we played really well and that we handled the environment really well. We knew it was going to be a fast transition game, that Switchbacks have speed, and we were able to hit them a couple of times on the counter. They got us as well. But, to be up 2-1 then go down two goals so late and still get something out of tonight, it shows a lot of character because these guys are believing in each other.
There are the new additions that helped give us a bit of a boost. We’ve also had injuries on and off all year, some of these guys are getting their feet back under them and they’re getting fit. I think the half-year of playing together and those relationships that they’ve built out are starting to come to fruition more.
Coach Casey on the quick start against teams, especially against Colorado Springs…
I think there have been two parts of the season. One where we’ve been the ones that have conceded early, and another that’s been as of late, where we’ve been a lot better from the start. So, I think that’s been good, the guys are coming out confident, ready with the game plan and then on the front foot, which is great to see.
Coach Casey on seizing the momentum from the result…
It was a great performance tonight, I’m really happy and proud of the guys and I’m looking forward to our next game. What a strike from our captain in those final minutes, I think that just continues to bring the group closer together and shows them we’re able to compete and get points. We’ve done it in different ways over the last couple of months, but I think it should give us a lot of confidence to know we can compete with anybody in the league.
AJ Paterson walking through scoring the stoppage time equalizer…
Geobel Perez was the one who told me to hit the ball. Usually, we have something set up a little bit different for that type of range, but yesterday in training, I had a nice one, and Geobel said ‘Paterson, this is you, just like yesterday,’ so, he had faith in me to go up there and hit it. Luckily, it went bar down on into the back of the net.
The main feeling after scoring was that we deserved the point, regardless of who put the ball in the back and that to tie the game there. I think we at least deserved the point and that was the main reaction. You could see it on everyone’s faces, we’re excited, we’re extremely happy, because we worked so hard. To give away the penalty so Colorado Springs could take the lead with that third goal, I’m sure a lot of people counted us out but we didn’t, we stuck with it. We fought and we got the tying goal to walk away with a point.
AJ Paterson on the overall performance…
Tonight’s performance showed the fight that we have, this was a very good team we played, highly ranked in the league, and we were right there with them. We led twice and then went down, but we showed the scrap and fight to come back and earn the point.
It’s always good to get on the scoresheet, even as a defender. But for me, it doesn’t really matter whose scores, Augi got a good goal and Geobel got a good goal. It just shows that we’re moving forward in the season. I think we’re turning over a new leaf with this season, we’re getting better performances and we’re getting results, that’s the main thing.
AJ Paterson on building upon the positives from the match…
This performance is a boost to our confidence. First our big win at home against Hartford and then to come away with a point here, in the altitude against a team of high quality like Colorado Springs, it’s massive for us and we’re going to build off that. We’re going to continue playing our football and that’s how we’re going to move forward.
The Battery will look to bring their recent form back home for their next match on Saturday, July 30, against Sacramento Republic FC. The club is celebrating Hometown Heroes Night at Patriots Point and honors Charleston’s first responders and frontline healthcare workers. Tickets are still available for the July 30 contest via SeatGeek.com, the official digital ticketing provider of the Charleston Battery.