Photo courtesy of FC Cincinnati
CINCINNATI – The Charleston Battery, in the midst of their sixth consecutive postseason, rallied past expansion side FC Cincinnati for a 2-1 victory Sunday in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in front of a USL postseason-record crowd of 30,187 on Sunday at Nippert Stadium. The attendance broke the previous mark of 20,886 held by Orlando City SC during the 2013 USL Cup Final at the Citrus Bowl, when Orlando defeated the Charlotte Eagles 7-4. Cincinnati’s home base was in high spirits with Eric Stevenson’s 30-yard tally in the 19th minute, but Charleston responded well as Chris Tsonis found the equalizer in the 40th minute. Then in the 65th minute, Zach Prince’s shot from a Maikel Chang corner kick was deflected by Tyler Polak and into his own net as Charleston took the 2-1 advantage. Prince was credited with the winning score and his Battery will face second-seeded Louisville City FC in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals next weekend.
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Charleston’s second-half approach was clear – set pieces and counterattacks. The Battery approached the game as probably any veteran and away side would heading into Nippert Stadium. They gained the lead in the 65th minute off of a corner kick sequence from Maikel Chang that was only partially cleared. Zach Prince fired toward the near right post, which Cincinnati’s Tyler Polak tried to cover. Unfortunately for the host side, his deflection was redirected inside the far left post and past Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt as Charleston took the 2-1 advantage.
2. During the first half, Cincinnati’s defense reached 400 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal, with the previous being a second-half tally to Saint Louis FC’s Patrick Doody on Sept. 5. Whether or not Charleston received that memo, the Battery put an end to that run, thanks to a 40th-minute throw-in from O’Brian Woodbine that reached Chris Tsonis at the edge of the six-yard area. Cincinnati’s defense was unable to mark him, with Austin Berry trying to get a head on the throw and just missing and goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt positioned strangely off of his line but close to Tsonis, who rose and put the ball into the back of the net to tie the score at 1-1. Cincinnati’s scoreless streak officially ended at 404 minutes and made Sunday a brand new match heading into the second half.
3. Though the host side saw its season come to an abrupt halt, it was one peppered with a number of highlight reel moments. Cincinnati’s Eric Stevenson unleashed a 30-yard shot that found the upper right corner in the 19th minute to take the early advantage. It was one of those chances where the Charleston defense was not close enough to make an impact on the play, and Stevenson’s shot was flush. The environment at Nippert was everything Cincinnati wanted, but it was unable to hold onto – or add to – that tally.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Maikel Chang, Charleston Battery – The veteran Chang provided the corner kick that led to the go-ahead goal and then helping kill off the game down the stretch.
FC Cincinnati – End of Season
Charleston Battery: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at No. 2 Louisville City FC - Saturday, Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m. ET, Slugger Field
19’ – CIN – Eric Stevenson (Sean Okoli)
40’ – CHS – Chris Tsonis (O’Brian Woodbine)
65’ – CHS – Zach Prince
CIN: 1-Mitch Hildebrandt; 15-Pat McMahon (18-Omar Mohamed, 84’), 22-Austin Berry (12-Evan Lee, 90’+2), 4-Harrison Delbridge, 3-Tyler Polak (24-Derek Luke, 78’); 6-Kenney Walker; 10-Eric Stevenson, 23-Andrew Wiedeman, 19-Corben Bone (16-Casey Townsend, 74’), 20-Jimmy McLaughlin; 9-Sean Okoli
CHS: 1-Alex Tambakis; 11-Griffith, 4-Taylor Mueller, 6-Shawn Ferguson, 7-O’Brian Woodbine; 12-Maikel Chang, 10-Ataulla Guerra, 24-Zach Prince, 19-Dante Marini (15-Emmanuel Adjetey, 74’); 25-Chris Tsonis (8-Neveal Hackshaw, 71’), 9-Romario Williams (16-Heviel Cordoves, 77’)
Venue: Nippert Stadium