Battery advance in playoffs with 2-1 win over Charlotte

Battery advance in playoffs with 2-1 win over Charlotte
The Battery defeated Charlotte 2-1 in the USL Championship playoffs on Saturday night to advance to the conference semifinals (Source: USL Championship)

MATTHEWS, N.C. – Arthur Bosua scored in extra time to send the Charleston Battery to a 2-1 victory against the Charlotte Independence at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Saturday night to reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs.

Charleston had scored early in the contest through Nicque Daley before the Independence leveled in the second half thanks to Hugh Roberts, but Bosua’s goal midway through the first period of extra time was enough to earn the Battery a trip to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies next weekend.

With both teams fighting fatigue, the Independence had chance 10 minutes into extra time but Dane Kelly couldn’t get enough purchase on his finish to curl his shot past Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky as he fired toward the right corner.

A minute later, though, having taken a lead early in the contest the Battery went back ahead. After being awarded a free kick just inside the Independence’s half, a floated delivery into the penalty area by Jarad van Schaik drew Charlotte goalkeeper Brandon Miller off his line to try and claim. Bosua beat him to the ball and his header bounced into the open net to put Charleston on top with 20 minutes to go.

Charlotte almost replied in the 103rd minute as Valentin Sabella’s cross from the right found Kelly for a looping header that ended up on the roof of the net as he tried to angle the ball to the left corner. Kelly then had an even bigger chance five minutes later as he cleverly cut past his defender as he received a pass from Enzo Martinez but couldn’t beat Kuzminsky with his low shot.

The Independence continued to press for an equalizer as the game entered its final 10 minutes, and Christian Chaney hit a turning volley that drifted wide of the right post in the 115th minute. But as the hosts looked for a late goal – even pushing Miller into attack for a pair of late set pieces – the Battery remained resolute and when Jake Areman’s chance in stoppage time couldn’t find the target, Charleston advanced.

The game had previously kicked off after a one-hour delay due to lightning, but it took only three minutes for the Battery to take the lead. A through-ball from the right side on the halfway line by Zeiko Lewis ran into the path of Mauro Cichero, and while he was denied a chance to shoot by a covering Independence defender the ball fell kindly for Daley to finish into the left corner of the net.

Charlotte almost answered in the 15th minute on its first good look at goal as a pass from the right by Joel Johnson found Rey Ortiz in the right side of the penalty area. Ortiz’s shot took a slight deflection on the way to goal and rang off the right post and away to safety. The Battery then went close to doubling their lead eight minutes later when Stavros Zarokostas grabbed possession after a loose first touch and forced Miller into a sharp save.

The Independence threatened again seven minutes before halftime as Luke Haakenson turned cleverly after receiving a pass by Enzo Martinez at the top of the penalty area before shooting low to the right corner as Kuzminsky saved. Charleston’s shot-stopper had to be alert again four minutes later as Areman sent a long-range free kick toward the right corner of the net, but Kuzminsky easily turned it wide.

Ortiz went close again for the Independence just before the hour-mark as he fizzed a shot just wide of the left post from 25 yards, but in the 64th minute the hosts found their equalizer. A free kick from the right by Areman arced perfectly into the penalty area, and after a redirection off a crowd of heads in the penalty area was turned back at point-blank range, Roberts was on hand to clean up the rebound.

The Battery had a late chance to decide the game in regulation as Cichero received the ball in the left side of the penalty area and fired toward the near side of the net to force Miller into a save, and he then almost got on the end of the ensuing corner by Robbie Crawford from the left at the near post but steered his header wide as the game went to extra time. There, though, Charleston would find its winner through Bosua to set up another clash with the Rowdies.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Arthur Bosua, Charleston Battery – Coming on as an early substitute in extra time, Bosua’s goal decided the contest to earn the Battery a trip to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.