The Charleston Battery lost a tight decision, 2-1, to the USL regular season champions, New York Red Bulls II, at MUSC Health Stadium Saturday night.
The Battery fell behind in the 38th minute after Red Bulls midfielder Vincent Bezencourt buried a perfectly struck free kick from the top of the box. The little left-footed playmaker bent the dead ball around the wall and away from a diving Alex Tambakis to put his side in front.
The 1-0 score held into halftime, leaving the Battery with 45 minutes to find two goals in order to keep their hopes of hosting a first-round playoff game alive. Charleston put pressure on the first-place Red Bulls immediately and found an equalizer five minutes into the second half.
Ricky Garbanzo played Dante Marini through inside the penalty area. The midfielder’s first shot was blocked by a sliding defender, but the rebound fell directly to him. Marini hammered the rebound into the back of the net to give the Battery life.
The hosts were ultimately undone by a penalty late in the second half. The referee awarded New York the spot kick after a push in the box. Brandon Allen stepped up and confidently scored the penalty, bringing his goal tally on the season to 15.
"They’re the number one team in the league for a reason, said Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser following the loss. "You have to play well for the entire 90 minutes against them or they’ll make you pay. It’s a great game to lead us into the playoffs. It was a great test and obviously we’re disappointed to lose, but it showed us a few mistakes that we can't commit the first-round of the playoffs if we’re going to extend our season. It was a tough loss, but we've shown that we can play with the best teams in this league and we're looking forward to moving into the playoffs. "
Charleston finishes the regular in sixth place and will head to FC Cincinnati for the first round of the playoffs. The two teams will meet on Sunday, October 2nd at 7:00pm.