Tale of Two Halves as Battery Fall 0-3 to Rio Grande Valley

The Battery fell to  Rio Grande Valley 3-0 on Friday night at Patriots Point
The Battery fell to Rio Grande Valley 3-0 on Friday night at Patriots Point(Charleston Battery)
Published: Sep. 24, 2022 at 4:26 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery fell 0-3 to Rio Grande Valley FC Toros on Saturday at Patriots Point. Despite the scoreless first half, the match was defined by the three goals scored by Rio Grande in the second half. The Patriots Point faithful were in full force nonetheless with a buzzing crowd on hand for Hispanic Heritage Night. Charleston will look to bounce back in their two upcoming away matches before returning home on October 15, against Loudoun United FC.

The night began with some quick chances for Rio Grande in the first two minutes. Goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux made his first save of the match with a leaping effort to tip Ricky Ruiz’s shot over the crossbar. RGV’s Wahab Ackwei had their shot blocked on the ensuing corner kick. Andrew Booth registered the Battery’s first shot in the 10th minute, a strike from distance that was met by goalkeeper Tyler Deric.

The match had a physical start, although relatively clean as the first yellow card wasn’t issued until the 22nd minute, to Rio Grande. Charleston began to turn up the heat on RGV and hampered Deric with shots after the half-hour mark. Avionne Flanagan, Aidan Apodaca and Robbie Crawford led the charge up top with numerous shots and crosses, but none of them were able to break through Rio Grande’s defense.

The half ended scoreless and the Battery held a slim advantage on possession with 52% retained. Fauroux and Deric tallied two and three saves, respectively.

Play resumed in the second half with the visitors on the front foot. Rio Grande broke open the match in the 55th minute via Christian Pinzon with a strong strike that hit the crossbar and down into the goal. Booth registered a pair of shots on target after the opening goal, but both were saved.

Matt Sheldon nearly equalized the match in the 70th minute with a header when Deric was caught off his line. RGV’s Ricky Ruiz made the goal line block to deny Charleston’s best chance to score to that point. Pinzon doubled Rio Grande’s lead in the 76th minute with a far post strike after Preston Kilwien blocked his initial shot. Juan Pablo Torres all but sealed the victory in the 80th minute when he scored RGV’s third goal.

Among the bright spots of the Battery’s night came in the 86th minute when 18-year-old Charleston native Caden Theobald entered the match off the bench to make his professional debut.

Battery Assistant Coach Dennis Sanchez, who took the reins while Head Coach Conor Casey served a red card suspension, and defender Preston Kilwien discussed the match after the final whistle.

Coach Sanchez on the difference between the first and second half…

I thought we came out in the first half and we were getting good pressure on the ball. We were collectively defending well, the idea was to try to play in our attacking half as much as we could and control the space. We got a little bit loose in the second half and then Rio Grande scored a very good first goal. Avionne had an opportunity but then RGV came back down to score the other way. With that being said, the guys kept fighting. Other guys had to step up, it was an adverse week in different ways, and we’re proud of the effort to keep fighting until the end.

Coach Sanchez on turning the page to the remaining three matches in October…

We’ll watch the video review, we have to keep building off our identity. We were much better with the ball in the first half, but we still have to do a better job when things hit the fan. Just need to take a deep breath, play our game, continue on with our style and control the game. It’s just more encouragement, belief and continuing to do what we can do when we’re at our best in these next three games.

Coach Sanchez on the stadium atmosphere…

There was good energy from the fans tonight, we’re lucky to have them. It’s been a long year in a lot of ways and we want to continue to push the results in a positive way. The fans have stood with us and we feel it; the players recognize it, the staff recognizes it. We’re very thankful and grateful that they’ve stood by our side. All I can say is that we’re going to continue to work our tails off for them and give them everything we can.

Kilwien on the assessment of the night…

I think the first 45 minutes, we came out with energy and with a lot of purpose. When we came out in the second half, for some reason, it just wasn’t there, or we didn’t match the intensity level that Rio Grande brought. I think that’s just the story of the game, we played well in the first half but in the second half, we let our foot off the gas a little bit and that’s what hurt us.

Kilwien on staying resolute in the final stages of the season…

We have to keep maintaining that fighting attitude we’ve had all year. It’s a little bit different than earlier, we’re fighting for the fans, for contracts, for just something else. So, I think just making sure that we keep that fighting spirit of our team and keep going to get these two results on the road and come back home to finish the season strong.

Kilwien on the support from the home fans…

We really appreciate their support. Everything they’ve done and continue to do for us, just being here and showing up, it makes a huge difference for us. So, thank you to them for keeping on coming out this year, even though it’s been a tough year. See you guys for the finale on October 15.

The Battery will aim to rebound during a two-game road trip before returning to Patriots Point for the season finale against Loudoun United FC. The club will be celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Night and raising money for cancer research right here in the Lowcountry. Tickets are available now for the season finale via SeatGeek, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.