Pittsburgh Riverhounds photo.
Joe Kuzminsky made four saves and earned his seventh clean sheet of the season Saturday night as the Charleston Battery defeated the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 1-0, at Highmark Stadium. The win moves the Battery into second place in the USL Eastern Conference and extends their unbeaten streak to seven games.
The Riverhounds started brightly, controlling the game in the first half as the Battery struggled to keep possession on the narrow artificial surface. Pittsburgh pressed high up the field and created several dangerous scoring opportunities throughout the first 45 minutes.
Just after striking a shot off the crossbar, Christiano Francois forced Kuzminsky into his first save of the night in the 26th minute. Francois collected a pass from Thomas Vancaeyezeele, moved the ball out from under his feet, and turned it on frame from 12 yards out, forcing Kuzminsky down to his left. The 6-4 goalkeeper got down quickly and touched the ball onto the post to keep the game scoreless.
The Battery came out of the halftime break with more of an attacking presence, but just as they began to find their rhythm, the referee awarded a penalty kick to Pittsburgh. Leland Archer was whistled for a handball in the 53rd minute after blocking a cross in the corner of the 18-yard box.
Neco Brett stepped up and stuck the penalty down the middle. Kuzminsky committed to his left, but reached back with his leg to deny Brett his ninth goal of the season and keep the score level at zero.
Kuzminsky was called into action again in the 78th minute after O’Brian Woodbine was dispossessed in the Battery’s defensive third. Raymond Lee stripped Woodbine and drove at the back three. Lee slipped a pass through to Brett who hit a first time shot towards the back post. Kuzminsky reacted quickly to get strong left hand to Brett’s point-blank shot and preserve the shutout.
As the two teams looked to be heading towards another 0-0 draw, the Battery scored against the run of play. Nico Rittmeyer chased down a loose ball in the 88th minute, just keeping it in play on the endline. Angelo Kelly picked up Rittmeyer’s pass and served a driven cross towards Ataulla Guerra at the back post. Guerra nodded the ball in to score his league-leading 11th goal of the season and seal three points for the Battery. The goal was the first scored against the Riverhounds in over 550 minutes of play and the second scored at Highmark Stadium all season.
The 1-0 victory extends the Battery’s winning streak to three games and gives them a one point lead over Pittsburgh in the table. The Battery will return home next Saturday, July 28 to take on the Richmond Kickers at MUSC Health Stadium.
CHARLESTON - Joe Kuzminsky, Leland Archer, Taylor Mueller, Neveal Hackshaw, Jay Bolt, Tah Brian Anunga, Angelo Kelly, O’Brian Woodbine (Vincenzo Candela, 80), Gordon Wild (Victor Mansaray, 70), Kotaro Higashi (Nico Rittmeyer, 64), Ataulla Guerra (yellow card, 83; goal 88)
Substitutes - Odisnel Cooper, Ryan Arambula, Ian Svantesson, Patrick Okonkwo
PITTSBURGH - Dan Lynd, Jordan Dover, Raymond Lee, Tobi Adewole, Joseph Greenspan, Hugh Roberts, Christiano Francois, Thomas Vancaeyezeele (yellow card, 90), Kenardo Forbes, Kevin Kerr (Kay Banjo, 82), Neco Brett (Romeo Parkes, 82)
Substitutes - Michael Kirk, Noah Franke, Andrew Lubhan, Todd Pratzner, Mouhamed Dabo