Geobel Perez Jr.’s late goal earns Battery point in sold-out finale
Battery wrap up 2022 in front of record Patriots Point crowd
CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Charleston Battery wrapped up their 2022 season on Saturday with a 1-1 draw with Loudoun United FC in front of a sold-out crowd at Patriots Point. Geobel Perez Jr. scored late in the match to earn the Battery a point. Saturday’s result closes the chapter on the club’s 30th season as the Black and Yellow will shift their focus to preparations for the 2023 campaign.
The season finale began with a relatively calm start for both sides in the warm October sun. Charleston held most of the early chances as Fidel Barajas led the charge up top. Barajas went for goal in the 11th minute off the volley of an AJ Paterson long ball that went just wide of the far post. A minute later, he dribbled past a Loudoun defender and crossed the ball into the box to Augi Williams, but the striker’s glancing header was also wide of the far post.
Goalkeeper Daniel Kuzemka registered the first save of the match in the 15th minute after a Loudoun corner kick. The visitors managed to strike first in the 26th minute when Kimarni Smith scored following a counter-attack. This came despite the Battery holding over 65% of possession through the half-hour mark.
Smith looked to add another goal in the 42nd minute with a dangerous opportunity inside the box, but Preston Kilwien made a sliding block at the last second to deny the shot. Loudoun’s 1-0 advantage held to halftime.
Play resumed in the second half with Charleston searching for an equalizer. Andrew Booth nearly did that in the 51st minute with a shot that went just wide of the far post. Charleston were unable to build momentum through the hour-mark despite holding nearly 70% of possession in the opening 15 minutes of the half. Dennis Sanchez made a series of offensive-minded substitutions with Geobel Jr. and Mauro Cichero entering the match midway through the half.
Charleston leveled the score in the 86th minute when Geobel Jr. slotted home the match-tying goal from inside the box. He and Cichero ran a series of passes into the final third that Loudoun weren’t quick enough to react to. The goal was Geobel’s third of the season and the assist was Cichero’s second, the tally sent the sold-out Patriots Point crowd into a frenzy.
The Battery came close to pulling ahead in stoppage time after Williams and Barajas each registered shots, but neither could get past goalkeeper Luis Zamudio. Charleston and Loudoun ended their respective seasons sharing the points.
Saturday’s finale featured a pair of notables for Battery players. Leland Archer made his 100th appearance for the club and Barajas made his first home appearance for the Black and Yellow.
Interim Head Coach Dennis Sanchez and captain AJ Paterson discussed the draw after the final whistle, with key quotes to follow.
Coach Sanchez on his overall assessment of the night…
“I’m proud of them. We talked a lot about, before the game, playing with courage tonight. I think there were moments where we were doing that in the first half and the message at halftime was for them to continue to believe in themselves. We had a choice to make, it was either to allow the circumstances to dictate the night or we could create our own story. "
“We were resilient. They continue to put in the energy, I think we were unlucky to not get the three points tonight. I thought the performance overall was very good.”
Coach Sanchez on what he told the squad after the final match had ended…
“The message after the game was to hold their heads high, to be proud. Use the energy that they’ve had this week and their response to adversity to utilize that in the right way in the offseason. Continue to build on their performances and come back hungry next year.”
Coach Sanchez on his message to the fans…
“We’re so grateful for them. We talked about all week playing for a higher purpose, which was our fans. They’ve been with us through thick and thin this year, we wanted to repay them. We wanted to use their energy tonight and really embrace the crowd that we have.”
“They were a huge part of us coming back in the second half. So, I’m very thankful for their continued support throughout the season.”
Paterson on the adjustments at halftime…
“The message at halftime was to continue doing what we’re doing. Loudoun’s opportunity came from a mistake on our own end and we created a lot of opportunities. We just weren’t lucky enough to score [in the first half]. We continued moving the ball, creating chances, and luckily, in the end, were able to connect Geobel and Mauro.”
Paterson on the squad fighting back after the early deficit…
“All season, everyone knows that it wasn’t the way we wanted it to go, but there’s not one game you can look at and say we gave up. We were resilient the entire season. Every single game, no matter what, we gave it our all. Luckily tonight, it turned out in our favor and we were able to get the equalizing goal.”
Paterson on the support shown by the crowd in the finale…
“We felt it from the very first whistle. [The crowd] erupts when the ball is being played, we feel it and that’s honestly what helped us push. It was a late goal and everybody was tired, we’d been running a lot, but hearing the crowd back us every time we go forward, it just frees energy inside of you.”
“We just want to thank them so much. Personally, it was a long season, a lot of ups and downs, but the fans stuck with us the entire way and we can’t ask for anything more.”
The club would like to thank their dedicated fans for their support throughout the season. The record-breaking crowd at Patriots Point for the season finale helped wrap up the campaign on a highly energizing note. The Battery will be back at Patriots Point in the spring for the start of the 2023 season.
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