Markanich’s extra-time winner sends Charleston past Charlotte in U.S. Open Cup

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 10:58 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery defeated Charlotte Independence 1-0 in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Saturday at Patriots Point thanks to Nick Markanich’s match-winning goal in extra time. The two Carolina clubs were scoreless after 90 minutes of regulation but Markanich’s strike, assisted by Chris Allan, in the 113th minute was the difference. Charleston advance to the Open Cup Round of 32 and will find out their opponent this Thursday.

The first 45 minutes played out relatively evenly between both sides as neither Charleston or Charlotte found the night’s opening goal. Jesse Randall, in his first Battery start, made his presence felt throughout the early moments and registered the game’s first shot on target in the 10th minute.

Charlotte began pressing more as the half wore on but Charleston’s defense kept them largely at bay. Goalkeeper Daniel Kuzemka was tested twice but made a pair of strong saves in the 22nd and 44th minute to deny Charlotte.

The second half began with Charleston on the front foot, pressing early and often into the Independence’s defensive third. Augi Williams put the ball into the net in the 54th minute after redirecting Randall’s shot, but the flag was raised for offside and the goal was disallowed.

Charlotte’s best chance of the night came in the 78th minute when Luis Alverez had a clear look from inside the box, only to have his shot blocked by a sliding Deklan Wynne.

Neither side were able to find an edge in regulation, sending the match to two 15-minute periods of extra time.

After a relatively quiet first period, Charleston found the winner in the second period with Nick Markanich scoring in the 113th minute, assisted by Chris Allan. Allan initiated the play from the left side and crossed the ball into Markanich, from there Markanich needed only a moment to gather himself before slotting the winner into the net. The goal was Markanich’s fifth of 2023.

The Battery closed out the game after taking the lead and secured their spot in the Round of 32 of the U.S. Open Cup. Charleston will find out their next opponent and location in the Round of 32 Draw on Thus., April 27.

Head Coach Ben Pirmann and midfielder Robbie Crawford discussed the victory after the final whistle, with key quotes to follow.

Coach Pirmann on how this win reflects the character of the squad…

Charlotte are very good on the counter, that’s a USL Championship club with USL Championship players. Coach Mike [Jeffries] does an incredible job. For us, it shows that we were on top of it. It took us a few minutes to get into our rhythm, but the group’s fantastic. We talked about our mentality, we talked about the selflessness that we need to fight, and they did it. It took 113 minutes but that’s what football is sometimes, you just keep pushing.

Coach Pirmann on advancing to the Round of 32…

We tell the team ‘anytime you put that jersey on, whether it’s training, preseason, Cup, USL Championship, playoffs, whatever the situation is, that we represent something at this club.’ That’s very important. It’s very important to the players, the owners and the executives, the front office, the coaches, and most importantly our supporters in this community. We want to win every single time we play.

Coach Pirman on the performances that stood out to him…

[Daniel] Kuzemka, Robbie [Crawford], [Juan Sebastian] Palma and [AJ] Cochran at the back did a top job stepping in there. Joe Schmidt holding midfield and Jesse Randall up top had a really good game. Arturo was playing underneath Augi and had a good game there. And then Aiden on the wing did a good job on the right side.

We want to always be on top of our philosophies and our principles. And then whoever gets the jersey and whoever gets selected gets selected, hopefully they can go out and perform and push for three points and they did a great job of it tonight.

Coach Pirmann on the supporters bringing the energy for all 120 minutes…

Our supporters love what our players do. They fight and they grind and they push, so we play for them. We play for this community and that’s what this is about. We have nothing but love for them and we’re so appreciative of the support that we’ve gotten. We just want to keep pushing and hopefully we can do it again on Saturday.

Crawford on his takeaways from tonight’s performance…

I don’t think there was anything that we didn’t know before. We know this team keeps playing until the end, they’ve proved that in other games. We know we were solid defensively as well and that we’ve got quality up front. I don’t know if there was anything new, we fortunately kept the momentum going and doing what we’ve been doing the last few weeks.

Crawford on what advancing in the Open Cup means to him…

It’s a big deal. Obviously back home [in Scotland], cup competitions are a big deal. I like the format of them, play against all different teams. And, I think it helps us in the league as well. It gives guys minutes in the cup and then they’ll be fresh for the games. It’s exciting and we just want to keep it going.

The Battery will finish off April at home on Sat., April 29, in league action against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.