Battery Secure a Point in 1-1 Draw with New York
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Battery opened the 2021 season Friday night securing a point on the road in a 1-1 draw against New York Red Bulls II (2). A hard-fought battle by both sides, the Battery came back in the second half after a 10th-minute goal by Jake LaCava put the hosts ahead early. Undeterred, Zeiko Lewis rose to the occasion against his former club with an equalizer in the 72nd minute, putting the Battery on level terms to then secure the draw.
Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser looked to keep Red Bulls II on their toes with a starting eleven that included new signing Ben Di Rosa on the backline and defender Logan Gdula moving up to the midfield.
The standard Battery defense helped put Charleston in control early in the first 45 minutes. However, an uncharacteristic giveaway by captain Jarad van Schaik in front of the box allowed Red Bulls II forward Jake LaCava to capitalize and put one past goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky. While down, the Black and Yellow answered with two chances by Zeiko Lewis in the 15th and 17th minutes, but were unable to convert the equalizer.Chances for the Battery kept coming with set pieces and crosses into the box. The 34th minute had the closest look for Charleston, where a nice pass from Robbie Crawford found Logan Gdula one-on-one with the keeper. Gdula’s shot was just wide right of the net.Despite the early goal, the Battery back line held a strong stature and kept possession outside their defensive third 77.6% of the first half. Leland Archer had an impressive string of stops in the 29th minute to halt the New York offense. Archer led the team with 4 interceptions during the match.
The Battery came into the second half quickly applying pressure. Lewis made a nice pass to Ben Di Rosa who was charging upfield on the right flank; Di Rosa had space but his shot went wide of the goal. The intensity on both sides was clearly visible as yellow cards continued to be shown for both sides, notably Logan Gdula and Daniel Edelman at the same time in the 54th minute.
Pressure continued to be applied by the Battery and Mauro Cichero was there to deliver it. The attacking midfielder had a pair of chances, one with a ball that went just wide of the net and another that forced New York’s Luca Lewis to make an impressive save in the 63rd minute. Another free kick was awarded to Charleston soon after, one of several in the match.
The Battery found their equalizer in the 72nd minute as Zeiko Lewis put Charleston on level terms. The build up started with an AJ Paterson interception, which he took towards the box before passing it off to Stavros Zarokostas to his left. Zarokostas sent a deflected ball in that found Lewis, who then flashed some skill to get around the New York defender and send the ball into the back of the net. The goal was Lewis’ first against his old club.
The Battery searched for a breakthrough by continuing to play the ball to the wings. Geobel Perez made his professional debut during a double switch that brought him and Nicque Daley on the field. Both provided speed immediately to threaten the New York defense, but no conversion was made. With five minutes of stoppage time added, New York threatened in the 96th minute with a corner kick, but Mandela Egbo’s header found itself into the waiting arms of Kuzminsky to seal the draw.
”We started a little bit slow in the first half,” said Battery midfielder Angelo Kelly. “But we had a talk in the locker room, made some adjustments and it ended up being a good, fun game.” Considering it was the first match back for the season, Kelly added, “We’ll always be a work in progress, but we’re very excited to continue working and bring home 3 points next week.”
Assessing the squad’s first performance, Battery Head Coach Michael Anhaeuser noted, “New York put us under pressure and we gave them an opportunity that they took advantage of. But we bounced back quickly after that and applied pressure for the rest of the match.” Looking back at the result, Coach added, “The guys handled it great, it was unfortunate we didn’t get the second goal, but I’m proud of the guys and their resiliency to pick up the point on the road. We’ll build on that to get 3 points back home next week.”
The Battery will take the draw to sit at the middle of the Atlantic Division table before the sold out home opener on May 14 hosting Charlotte Independence.