The Charleston Battery earned their first shutout in over a month Saturday night, defeating the Charlotte Independence, 1-0, at MUSC Health Stadium.
The match between the Southern rivals started slow, with both teams feeling each other out in the early going. Charlotte high pressed in the opening half, pinning the Battery in their defensive third and forcing the back four to play long balls out of the back.
Charlotte had the only shot on goal in the first half. Enzo Martinez fizzed a shot from the top of the box, but goalkeeper Alex Tambakis was alert and made a good save to keep the score level at zero.
“It was more of a chess match early on and I thought we played really well,” said Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser. They didn’t have too many shots, we did a good job of containing them.”
The Battery started the second half on the front foot, spending the majority of the opening minutes in Charlotte’s half. The quick start paid off as the home team grabbed the eventual game-winning goal in the 50th minute.
Ataulla Guerra showed a great change of pace to beat his man and break into the attacking third. After drawing a defender to him, Guerra slotted a ball across the 18 yard box to Maikel Chang who was unmarked at the back post. Chang finished easily, scoring his fourth goal of the year and giving his side the lead.
Following the goal, the game became extremely stretched. The teams traded chances and counter attacks throughout the remainder of the half, but neither could find the back of the net. Charlotte were unlucky not to find an equalizer, hitting the crossbar twice and forcing Tambakis to make a few acrobatic saves in the final 30 minutes.
“Alex made three great saves to preserve the shutout and the three points,” said Anhaeuser. “You really have to give him Man of the Match, he was huge for us tonight against a good team. We needed those three points, hopefully they’ll get us off and running for our last six games.”
The win will help solidify Charleston’s playoff chances; the Battery leapfrogged Charlotte and could end up as high as fourth depending on results around the league. The win also clinches the Southern Derby Cup for Charleston, finishing the year with a 2-1-2 record against Charlotte and Wilmington.
Following Saturday night’s win, the Battery will head out on the road for a make-up game against the Richmond Kickers on Wednesday night. Charleston will then return home to face the Rochester Rhinos on September 3rd.