Battery Draw 0-0 with Pittsburgh as Kuzemka Notches Clean Sheet

Chris Cowger, Futbol, Highmark Stadium, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC,...
Chris Cowger, Futbol, Highmark Stadium, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Soccer, Soccer Photography, Sports Photography, USL, USL Championship(Chris Cowger | Charleston Battery)
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 10:54 PM EDT
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PITTSBURGH  – The Charleston Battery secured a point in a scoreless draw with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Wednesday at Highmark Stadium. Battery goalkeeper Daniel Kuzemka notched three saves in his first career clean sheet during a night that was highlighted by defense. Charleston remains undefeated against Pittsburgh in 2022 with one win and one draw. The Battery will look to build on the strong road performance this Saturday when they return to Patriots Point to face New York Red Bulls II.

The evening began with a cautious start from both teams as neither were eager to overcommit one way or another. Only three shots were registered through the first 17 minutes, all off target. Pittsburgh created their first real chance of the night in the 19th minute following a string of passes into the final third. Goalkeeper Daniel Kuzemka made a diving save to deny Toby Sims and neutralized the threat.

It wouldn’t be until past the half-hour mark that another opportunity to score presented itself. Sims sent in an inviting cross into the box, but it failed to be received by a teammate. The Battery nearly broke the game open in the 39th minute when a defensive error allowed Andrew Booth to take a shot on goal without goalkeeper Jahmali Waite on his line. Booth’s shot was deflected initially and then tipped over the crossbar with a header by Arturo Ordóñez, a big chance missed.

The half ended scoreless, with the Battery holding just shy of 60% of possession and the Hounds taking the majority of shots (seven to Charleston’s two).

Play resumed in the second half with the Hounds winning a pair of free kicks within the opening 10 minutes. The second, taken by Kenardo Forbes, was calmly saved by Kuzemka. The rookie shot-stopper was called upon again in the 69th minute to make a save on Jelani Peters’ shot after Peters dispossessed Booth.

The intensity began to ramp up in the waning moments of the match as the two sides searched for a match-winner. Charleston had a free kick in the 82nd minute that turned contentious when Patrick Hogan was taken down inside the box during the play. The Battery appealed for a penalty to be awarded but to no avail. Pittsburgh had a chance at the end of stoppage time to score when Alexander Dixon tried to connect with Forbes inside the box, however the pass was just beyond reach.

The final whistle blew and the Battery secured a point at Highmark Stadium, remaining undefeated against Pittsburgh in 2022. Kuzemka notched his first career clean sheet as a professional and AJ Paterson appeared in his 75th total match with the Battery. Charleston’s draw also secured the supporter-led Old Guard Shield for the Lowcountry fans.

Battery Head Coach Conor Casey and goalkeeper Daniel Kuzemka discussed the match after the draw.

Coach Casey on the main takeaways from the night…

In the first half, we came out and played really well with the ball. I think our ability to keep the ball helps us not have to defend too much. In the second half, we just dug in and made some plays at the right times. It was a great defensive effort. We couldn’t really get a lot going on the offensive in the second half, it was a tough place to play. More than anything, I’m proud they were able to dig in and get the point.

Coach Casey on how the rotated squad performed…

We had some fresher legs which was good. With three games in one week, we knew we were going to have to rotate a little bit and I think the guys did really well, they stepped up. There were some good performances from our starters and we were able to get some other guys some minutes. So, it’s good to get them time out there and still have some fresh bodies for the weekend.

Coach Casey on his message to the team with the upcoming home match on Saturday…

We beat New York a couple of weeks ago and now we’re at home. They played and we played tonight, so it sets up a game that we need to come out with really high energy in our home stadium. We’re due for a really big performance at home for our fans and we want to give that to them.

Kuzemka on his overall assessment of the team’s performance…

I saw a team that really wanted to fight tonight. We had a meeting in the beginning of the week with the coaching staff and we set objectives for the rest of the season. One of them was to fight and not concede any goals, get three shutouts out of our last eight games, and that was our main focus tonight. We did, so it was a good feeling to be a part of that and be in the net again. I saw a team that was really hungry and had something to prove, that we could still fight and compete with any team in the league.

Kuzemka on how the changes to the lineup contributed to securing the point…

Yeah, I think the changes showed some fresh legs, just switching up the lineup a bit. It showed how deep we are and how we push each other in training each day. We have a very close team and we all support each other. So, whoever steps are out there on the pitch, we’re going to be supporting them out there. Having a fresh lineup out there, with some guys who have not played as many minutes in the past few games, they showed why they deserved to play. It was just a good feeling for a lot of guys to contribute tonight.

Kuzemka on how it felt to notch his first clean sheet as a professional…

It felt really good. We knew it was gonna be a tough battle defensively with players like Kenardo Forbes and Alex Dixon who are two of the best attacking players in the league. To get a clean sheet on the road, my first professional clean sheet, against a really good team just feels amazing. I couldn’t do without my defenders and all 11 guys working on the pitch together. So, big shout out to my back line and everybody that contributed tonight.

The Battery will be back at Patriots Point on Saturday, September 3, for their next home match against the New York Red Bulls II. The club will celebrate Parks at the Pitch night with Charleston County Parks and tickets are available now via SeatGeek, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.