The Charleston Battery will live to fight another day after a dramatic penalty shootout against Ottawa Fury FC on Wednesday night. The Battery and Fury FC were locked in a 1-1 draw after the opening ninety minutes and went scoreless in extra time. Charleston advanced on penalties 5-4.
It was a promising start for the boys in Black and Yellow in their ninth consecutive trip to the USL Championship Playoffs. Kotaro Higashi opened Charleston's postseason account in the 27th minute to put the Battery up 1-0. An errant pass in the Ottawa midfield was intercepted by defender A.J. Paterson who wasted no time in playing to Higashi, who found himself in acres of space down the left-hand side. Higashi drove toward the Ottawa penalty area and did well to keep his composure as Nana Attakora attempted to close down the Japanese playmaker. Higashi attempted to curl a shot past Callum Irving who was able to get a hand to it but wasn't strong enough to keep it out.
Onua Obasi and Mour Samb combined in the 40th minute to level things for the hosts. Obasi forced Nico Rittmeyer into a one on one down the left side and skipped Rittmeyer while Zeiko Lewis came down for support. Lewis did well in the challenge sending Obasi to ground but not before slipping a centering pass to Samb, who was positioned well inside the box. Samb was able to fire a quick, low shot past Joe Kuzminsky leaving the Battery keeper with no chance at making a save.
Samb and Fury FC continued to battle for a winner, and Ottawa's goal scorer gave the Charleston backline trouble all night. Samb picked out teammate Wal Fall at the top of the Battery eighteen in the 61st minute and Fall sent a curling effort in that caromed off Kuzminsky's crossbar.
Kuzminsky and Taylor Mueller kept the Battery in the dying seconds off stoppage time sending the match to penalties. Carl Haworth lined up a late free-kick and sent a dangerous ball into the Charleston area where it dropped for Samb. Samb's shot was initially saved by Kuzminsky who was unable to control and the loose ball rolled to the path of a charging Thomas Meilleur-Giguère. Kuzminsky and Mueller both challenged for the ball and it was Mueller who got a foot in to knock it out for an Ottawa corner. The Battery were able to clear the ensuing corner and the referee blew for full time.
Fall took the first penalty for Ottawa and put Fury FC in front with a 1-0 advantage. Lewis matched Fall's converted penalty with one of his own before the two teams matched each other's next two attempts. Tied at 3-3, Samb stepped up for Ottawa but sent his try off the bar, opening the door for Charleston to take the lead. Ian Svantesson kept his cool on the fourth and Jarad van Schaik won it with the fifth.
The Battery will square off against Nashville SC on Saturday, October 26th at 8:00 PM EST. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.
OTTAWA: Irving, Haworth, Obasi (Boskovic 120+2'), Meilleur-Giguere, Attakora (Gagnon-Laparé 120+2'), Ward, Mannella (Thiago 79'), Fall (YC 117'), Barry, François (Oliveira 71'), Mour Samb (goal 40')
Substitutes: Monsalve, Boskovic, Dixon, Oliveira, Thiago, Coupland
CHARLESTON: Kuzminsky, Paterson, van Schaik, Mueller, van Schaik, Kelly (Svantesson 120+1'), Rittmeyer (Candela 89'), Lewis (YC 117'), Higashi (goal 27', Piggott 90'), Bosua, Daley (Marini 76' YC 116')
Substitutes: Breno, Candela, Marini, Mason, Piggott, Posnanski, Svantesson
Penalties: Fall (1), Lewis (1), Haworth (2), Bosua (2), Barry (3), Marini (3), Samb (miss), Svantesson (4), Thiago (4), van Schaik (5)