Goalkeeper Kuzminsky Scores Goal to Help Battery Steal Point Against Loudoun
Leesburg, Va. – The Charleston Battery secured a point on the road in a 1-1 draw against Loudoun United FC. After going down a goal in the second half, it was goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky who scored in the 95th minute to tie the game at the death. Kuzminsky also tallied three saves in what was a complete day at the office for the shot-stopper (and goal-scorer). The Black and Yellow will look to build on the heroics going into their upcoming two home matches that open the June schedule.
The action commenced at Segra Field with both sides energized and eager to find an early advantage. The Battery’s press was in full force, led by Augi Williams and Kyle Holcomb up top, the latter making his professional debut. Goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky denied Loudoun in the 4th minute with a quick grab of the ball from Azaad Liadi’s feet at the 6-yard box. Kuzminsky would be called into action again in the 10th minute for a diving save on a shot from Jacob Greene.
Charleston were able to hold the ball well against Loudoun, a team known for their possession-based style of play. Mauro Cichero gave the Battery a good look in the 22nd minute with an inviting pass across the face of goal past Loudoun’s defense, however, he was unable to connect with a teammate on it. Kuzminsky would make another diving save in the 31st minute to keep the hosts at bay. Holcomb added a spark for the Battery offense and flashed some skill along the edge of the box, weaving his way around Loudoun’s defense for a shot that went barely wide of the left post.
Williams and Cichero would both register shots from inside the box in the 40th minute, but neither side could ultimately find the back of the net before the halftime whistle blew. Loudoun held slight edges in possession and passes, but the Battery held firm on defense with the majority of tackles won and interceptions. The first half also ended with no yellow cards given, but that would change in the second half.
Play resumed with the Battery on the front foot. Cichero showed composure on a shot after receiving the ball from Williams, although the curling effort was just wide of the far post. Holcomb again showed his craftiness during a run into the box in the 63rd minute, firing a close-range shot that forced a reflex save from goalkeeper Luis Zamudio. The Battery had a chance to go ahead in the 67th minute when Andrew Booth won a foul inside the box for a penalty kick. Williams took the attempt from the spot, but his shot was wide right of the post.
Things picked up in the latter stages of the second half. Loudoun took advantage of the missed penalty and scored the opening goal in the 76th minute via Alexander Dexter. Tempers flared in the 83rd minute when a Loudoun challenge against EJ Johnson was followed by a foul from Piggott on Rio Hope-Gund. Hope-Gund retaliated with an aggressive two-handed shove on Piggott that earned him a red card, reducing the hosts to 10 men.
The Battery applied heavy pressure forward with the one-man advantage in search of an equalizer. Heroics came via Joe Kuzminsky, going against fellow goalkeeper Zamudio, on a corner kick in the 95th minute to score the equalizer. It was a scramble inside the box between both sides, but the 6-5 goalkeeper positioned himself perfectly to chest the ball off the bounce and into the back of the net, triggering a euphoric celebration involving the whole team. Brett St. Martin was credited with the assist. Kuzminsky’s tally is the first goalkeeper goal in USL Championship since 2011 and just the second in league history.
The Battery stole a point on the road as the 1-1 scoreline held through the final minute of stoppage time. Charleston remain undefeated at Segra Field with a record of 3-0-1 after tonight.
Following the match, Kuzminsky gave a candid recount of what happened during the goal.
“I’m still kind of in shock,” said Kuzminsky. “As soon as the ball came in, I challenged the first one, then that ball popped up and I challenged again, then it fell to me and I chested it in. It was crazy.”
Kuzminsky believes the dramatic result and solid team performance can be something to spark a reversal for the club heading into June.
“This is the type of thing that can really turn a season around,” said Kuzminsky. “If we take the positives from this, learn from the negatives, keep pushing forward and keep working hard towards our next match, this is could be a big point and momentum shift for us.”
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey echoed Kuzminsky’s optimism.
“This can 100% spark a turnaround, the team had a different energy tonight from the start,” said Coach Casey. “Nights like this can change the trajectory of a season.”
Overall, the Battery tactician was pleased with the team’s performance in the draw.
“My biggest takeaway from tonight is the heart and togetherness of the group, they fought until the end,” said Coach Casey. “Our press continues to improve, but, more importantly, we have been getting better and better with the ball over the last month, and it showed tonight.
“It was our best performance of the year, we dominated a large portion of the game, so this is a huge boost of momentum for the team.”
There was a coalition of Battery traveling fans at Segra Field and Kuzminsky applauded their relentless support this year, home and away.
“The fans this season have been incredible, but to see them on the road, it means a lot to us,” said Kuzminsky. “It’s huge for us to go in there and get a result on with them away from home. The more fans we have at our games, the more they push us, and we want to give them the same joy and excitement as what happened tonight but at home.”
The Battery’s focus now shifts to the two-game homestand to open June, starting June 4 against Indy Eleven at Patriots Point. Tickets for the Saturday match can be purchased via SeatGeek.com, the club’s exclusive ticketing provider.
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