The Charleston Battery took three points and reclaimed the Southern Derby Cup against North Carolina FC in a 2-1 win on Sunday afternoon at MUSC Health Stadium.
Tah Brian Anunga scored his second goal of the season to give the Battery a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute. Anunga was a dominating presence in the midfield all match and was awarded for his efforts with a brilliant individual goal just before halftime. Anunga picked up a pass near midfield and started his powerful run sidestepping North Carolina midfielder Viktor Igbekoyi and retaining possession against a challenging Aaron Guillen. The ball took a slightly favorable bounce and Anunga was through on goal with only Alex Tambakis to beat. Anunga curled a beautiful shot around Tambakis from just inside the left corner of the area just minutes before the halftime whistle.
It was a strong first-half performance from the boys in Black and Yellow, but it was North Carolina who started the second half on the front foot. Nazmi Albadawi equalized four minutes after the break after a spell of attacking play from North Carolina. DJ Taylor played the crucial pass, chipping a controlled ball in towards Taylor who had stationed himself on the penalty spot. It was a bouncing ball that Taylor struck well and beat Joe Kuzminsky who was positioning himself to make a save.
There always seems to be late drama between Charleston and North Carolina and today was no exception. Charleston looked dangerous on the counter-attack and North Carolina were full of confidence which set-up a wild finish that may very well have kept the Battery's playoff hopes alive. Nico Rittmeyer scored his second goal of the season and his second goal in as many matches in the third minute of stoppage time. Kyle Nelson, who put himself in dangerous attacking positions throughout the match, found Rittmeyer at the near post and the former College of Charleston star made no mistake beating Tambakis at the death.
"It feels amazing," Rittmeyer said after the match. "I got my first one last week and that's given me so much confidence heading into the final stretch of the season." With the win, the Battery find themselves back within a point of Birmingham and a trip to MSU Park to take on the New York Red Bulls II on Friday night. "We turned one point into three this afternoon," coach Anhaeuser said. We've got a difficult match against New York next week and we'll need to recover and be ready to get three points against the Red Bulls."