DANIEL ISLAND, SC - Needing a win to advance to the playoffs the Charleston Battery defeated the Charlotte Eagles 4-3 Friday night at Blackbaud Stadium in front of 4,773. Mike Zaher led the way with two superb goals as the Battery completed a season sweep of three victories versus the Eagles.
"What a great start we had, moving Mike Zaher up front was a great move for us by scoring two goals early," said head coach Mike Anhaeuser. "We did well but credit to the Eagles for never giving up."
The Charleston Battery opened up the night of goals in the 5th minute. Dane Kelly was in control of the ball bringing it up the field with a bit of pace. With a swift cutback move, Kelly played the ball square to teammate Zach Prince who struck the ball powerfully to the back of the net.
Charleston doubled its advantage in the 7th minute as Nicki Patterson chipped the ball to the feet of Mike Zaher. With a quick settling touch Zaher ripped a sublime full volley into the upper right-hand corner of the net for the second goal of the night.
Charlotte retaliated in the 18th minute when Diego Martins dribbled just outside of the Battery box for a quick back pass to Jorge Herrera. Herrera struck the ball for a strong shot off of the laces, but the attempt was saved by goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra.
The Battery added a third in the 30th minute when defender Nigel Marples played a through ball to Mike Zaher. With a burst of speed and a scissors move Zaher pulled the ball onto his right foot and curled a shot into the back of the net for the third goal of the night.
The Eagles fought back and scored just before the half from a free kick just yards outside of the box. The shot, taken by Herrera zipped through a crowd of players and rolled into the right side of the net.
The Battery made their fourth goal of the evening in the 61st minute when defender Sean Flatley played a long ball to a sprinting Dane Kelly. Kelly's strength and pace brought him past Charlotte's defense with just the goalkeeper Eric Reed to beat. With a flick past Reed's right side, the ball flew straight into the net.
The game finished in wild fashion as the Eagles pulled two goal back in injury time with Salieu Bundu and Miguel Ferrer giving Charlotte hope but time ran out before the Eagles could find the vital fourth goal.
With the win Charleston will advance to the USL PRO American Division semifinal and play the Orlando City Lions next Saturday night at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando Florida.
The Charleston Battery announced its annual player awards at half-time of tonight's game:
2011 Nigel Cooper MVP – Andrew Dykstra
2011 Offensive Player of the Year – Nicki Paterson
2011 Derek Revord Defensive Player of the Year – John Wilson
2011 Betsy McAdams Newcomer of the Year – Andrew Dykstra
2011 David Vaughan Memorial Award – Colin Falvey
Referee: Mark Cleland
Assistant Referees: Melanie Johnson, Dustin Thorne
Weather: Clear 80
Scoring Summary Goal (Assist) Minute
Charleston Battery Prince (Kelly) 5
Charleston Battery Zaher (Paterson) 7
Charleston Battery Zaher 30
Charlotte Eagles Herrera 45
Charleston Battery Kelly (Flatley) 61
Charlotte Eagles Bundu 90
Charlotte Eagles Ferrer 90
Charleston Battery: Andrew Dykstra, Mark Wiltse, Colin Falvey, Sean Flatley, Nigel Marples, Mike Zaher (Stephen Armstrong 64), Cole Peverley, Nicki Paterson, Alex Caskey, Zach Prince (Kevin Jackson 75), Dane Kelly (Levi Coleman 82)
Players Not Used - Keith Wiggans, Jon Gruenewald, Seedy Bah
SHOTS: 13 (Zaher 4); SAVES: 5 (Dykstra 5); FOULS: 8 (Kelly 2); CORNER KICKS: 4; OFFSIDES: 4; PENALTY KICKS: (NONE); CAUTIONS: Wiltse 45, Peverley 45; EJECTIONS: (NONE)
Charlotte Eagles:Eric Reed, Cheyne Roberts (Luke Williams 45), Mark Bloom, Greg Dalby (Jo Connor 65), Josh Rife, Juan Guzman (Miguel Ferrer 56), Darren Toby, Jorge Herrera, Diego Martins (Nate Thornton 65), Salieu Bundu, Alan Sanchez (Chad Smith 68)
Players Not Used - Pat Mitrovich, Chris Salvaggione