In their first home game in over a month, the Charleston Battery defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 1-0, Saturday night to extend their unbeaten streak to four games.
The Rowdies and the Battery traded possession throughout most of the first 45 minutes, with the Battery creating the more dangerous chances. Charleston’s attacking four had several near misses in the opening 20 minutes, but it was the Rowdies who went closest to breaking the deadlock. Hunter Gorskie out-lept a Battery defender on a set piece in the 24th minute, but his header went inches wide.
The Battery opened the scoring in stoppage time of the first half after Neveal Hackshaw slipped a pass into Ataulla Guerra at the corner of the 18-yard box. With the defender on his hip, Guerra turned and fired a low shot through a group of bodies. The ball took a slight deflection and found the back of the net.
“Ataulla has been tremendous,” said Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser. “He’s been the player who’s been the catalyst for us. He played three games in seven days and scored two goals. He knew going in that we were going to limit his minutes, so him getting that goal at the end of the first half was huge.”
Carrying the momentum from the stoppage-time goal into the second half, Charleston pressed for more. Ian Svantesson had an opportunity to double the Battery’s advantage in the 61st minute, connecting with a cross from Nico Rittmeyer, but a last-ditch effort by a Rowdies defender kept the ball out of the net.
Tampa attacked hard in the final ten minutes pushing for an equalizer. The Battery back four absorbed the pressure and thwarted the Rowdies’ attacks before they entered the defensive third. Joe Kuzminsky, who earned his first ever professional start Tuesday night in Atlanta, made two saves in the match and earned his second shutout in as many games.
“I’ve worked really hard to get here,” said Kuzminsky after the match. “Now it’s time to show what I’ve got. Being able to play my first game here at home tonight was amazing and then to get the shutout on top of it is great.”
The win extends Charleston’s unbeaten streak to four games and their win streak to two. The Battery returns home to take on the Charlotte Independence next Saturday, May 5 at MUSC Health Stadium.
-per Charleston Battery