Battery Come Up Short in 6-3 Shootout Against Hartford
HARTFORD, Conn. – The Charleston Battery fell 6-3 to Hartford Athletic in a dramatic shootout at Trinity Health Stadium on Saturday. Andrew Booth, Aidan Apodaca and Augi Williams scored for the Battery. However, it was a bridge too far for Charleston in the end as Hartford relentlessly responded to preserve their lead. Fidel Barajas made his professional debut and the 16-year-old assisted Williams’ goal after entering the match off the bench.
The night began under a calm fall night, with temperatures in the 50s and the Battery on the front foot. Aidan Apodaca and Mauro Cichero led Charleston up top with a handful of early opportunities, but neither could get a shot on target. Hartford opened the scoring in the 10th minute via Ariel Martinez. The hosts added a second tally moments later when Andre Lewis found the back of the net.
Charleston looked for a way back into the match, however, Hartford’s 4-5-1 midfield made movement past midfield increasingly difficult. Apodaca registered the Battery’s first shot on target in the 29th minute, a short-range header right to goalkeeper James Slayton. DZ Harmon had a shot on target minutes later but, again, Slayton made the save.
Hartford tacked on a third goal in the lone minute of stoppage time just before halftime. Charleston entered the interval with a deficit to overcome despite holding 63.2% of possession during the half.
The second half kicked off with the Battery playing a spirited brand of football. Charleston responded with a goal from Andrew Booth in the 53rd minute, assisted by Romario Piggott. Booth lined up his shot from just beyond the 18-yard box and uncorked a missile to the top left corner, his fourth goal of the season.
Apodaca would strike for the Battery again just four minutes later to cut into Hartford’s lead. Leland Archer played a long ball into the box that Aidan received and redirected past Slayton. The goal is Apodaca’s sixth of 2022. Hartford, however, responded quickly as Lewis scored in the 57th minute to restore their two-goal advantage.
Augustine Williams came off the bench to score the Battery’s third goal of the night, in the 79th minute, assisted by Fidel Barajas. Williams bagged his 15th goal of the season after tapping home Fidel’s cross from the byline. Barajas’ assist highlighted the night of his professional debut after the 16-year-old entered the match in the 71st minute. Both Williams and Barajas were fresh off international duty with the Sierra Leone national team and Mexico U-17 national team, respectively, earlier in the week.
Despite the Battery’s best efforts to level the score, Hartford would pull away in the waning moments of the match. Lewis converted from the penalty spot in the 87th minute and Ariel Martinez tallied the hosts’ sixth goal during stoppage time.
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey and forward Aidan Apodaca discussed the match following the final whistle, with key quotes to follow.
Coach Casey on the goal-scoring start to the second half…
My message at halftime was for us to put pressure on the ball and make plays on the defensive end, but we didn’t do the latter in the second half. It was good to see us come out of halftime and get ourselves back into the game. The guys came out with the right mentality to start the second half but it wasn’t with us for the start of the first half. I thought with the ball we were okay, we generated chances, but we’ve given up a lot of goals in the last three games and it’s just simply not good enough from a defensive standpoint.
Coach Casey on what was difficult about tonight…
We weren’t defending properly and we weren’t getting pressure on the ball or going with their runners. We weren’t tackling and we weren’t getting close to the ball. There wasn’t enough from us to do what it takes to defend.
Coach Casey on Fidel Barajas making his professional debut today…
It was nice to get him some minutes. I thought he did well out there in his first game. Fidel was also able to get on the stat sheet with an assist, he brought good energy off the bench.
Apodaca on his assessment of the match from the pitch…
It was a tough night. We came into halftime and we regrouped, we were able to enter in the second half and put two quick ones right away. But, things didn’t really go our way after that. It’s tough because I felt like everybody really battled and we all felt like we could keep going.
Apodaca on the resiliency of the team…
I think the resiliency has been the theme this season, just grinding it out and not getting down if we concede. It’s a matter of fighting back and not going down without a fight. Tonight, it was about finishing our chances and that’s what we did, that gave us some extra hope.
Apodaca on turning the page to the final two games of the season…
Now, we’re playing for pride, playing for ourselves, and playing for our fans. It’s important to put in strong performances these last two games. We may be out of a playoff spot but that doesn’t mean these games don’t mean anything. We have to fight and be prideful these next couple of matches.
The Battery will next travel to Indiana for an away match against Indy Eleven on Saturday 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.
Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.