Palma, Williams, Avila put three past Hounds in commanding Battery victory
CHARLESTON, S.C – The Charleston Battery triumphed over Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in a thrilling 3-1 victory at Patriots Point on Saturday. In front of a crowd of over 3,700, Juan Sebastian Palma, Augi Williams and Beto Avila’s goals overwhelmed the conference-leading Hounds. Fidel Barajas provided two assists, adding to his league-leading total of seven.
The Battery started the game looking to apply heavy pressure against the USL Championship’s top team early on. Juan Sebastian Palma broke the match open in the 11th minute, scoring with a perfectly-placed header off Fidel Barajas’ corner kick. The goal was Palma’s first career professional goal and the assist was Barajas’ sixth of the season.
Goalkeeper Trey Muse came up big on the opposite end, with three big saves past the latter stages of the second half, including one on a point-blank shot and another with a dive.
Augi Williams continued to press high against Pittsburgh’s back line and his efforts paid off in stoppage time before halftime with a goal to put the Battery ahead, 2-0. Derek Dodson headed back a long ball from goalkeeper Jahmali Waite that made its way to Barajas, and the Mexican youth international made a clever flick to assist Williams’ goal. The goal was Williams’ 10th of the season, across all competitions, and Barajas’ seventh assist.
Charleston took a commanding 2-0 lead into the break, despite conceding a majority of possession to Pittsburgh (46% to 54%).
Both teams came out of the break eager to find the back of the net. Williams came up big in the 52nd minute with a goalline clearance against the Hounds.
The Battery added to their lead moments later when Beto Avila was Johnny-on-the-spot to put away a cool and collected finish to make the score 3-0. Avila collected the rebound on Williams’ saved shot and turned in a composed effort to tuck the shot inside the near post and outside of Waite’s dive. The goal was Avila’s second for the Battery this season.
Pittsburgh managed to pull a goal back past the hour-mark via former Battery midfielder DZ Harmon, cutting the score to 3-1.
Despite the goal by Pittsburgh, the Battery continued to tighten their grip on the match as the half wore on. Muse again rose to the occasion in the latter stages of the half, providing two key saves in the final 10 minutes.
Charleston secured the 3-1 victory over the Eastern Conference leaders, improving the Battery’s record to 10W-5L-6D (36 pts) and elevating them to second place in the standings. The win also extended Charleston’s current undefeated run to four matches.
Barajas’ two assists in the match put him in sole possession of the league lead for assists with seven.
Deklan Wynne celebrated his 100th career regular season USL Championship match in the victory.
In addition to the goal, Palma led the team in recoveries (10) and aerial duels won (three, tied).
Head Coach Ben Pirmann and midfielder Chris Allan discussed the match after the final whistle, with key quotes to follow.
Coach Pirmann on his assessment of tonight’s victory…
The last few games, we rewarded ourselves with four chances in the first 10-20 minutes, then we got the one on the restart to go up [1-0]. Then when things faded, we re-put our foot down a little bit. We opened them up, they stuck to the patterns and their movements. They are a tough team, that team doesn’t give up. They’ve given up 12 goals before this, so to put three away and have three or four more chances, was brilliant. They turned it up in the first 10 minutes of the second half. We had to make a slight adjustment. Our coaches, Devin Rensing, Leigh Veidman, Brian Jones and Eric Salley did a tremendous job to fix some things. Beto [Avila] rewarded him with a classy third goal.
A little bit disappointed to concede. I felt we gave up too much territory, but when you’re playing the first-place team and they’re down three-nil, they’re going to get desperate and go for it. For us to play a complete performance in front of our home crowd, the energy was tremendous.
Coach Pirmann on the importance of tonight’s win over first-place Pittsburgh…
Two [home] games in a row, we’ve scored three goals. We’ve played very tough, moved the ball well. There’s selflessness, you can feel it. We’ve got to make sure that we’re sustaining that. We go to Birmingham [next], which is obviously a very, very tough game on the road.
I’m so proud of these boys and I’m so proud of this club. For us to create the chances we did and to do it in front of our faithful, our supporters, the energy was there. That’s about as perfect a night as you’re gonna get.
Coach Pirmann on Juan Sebastian Palma’s breakout game…
We have four very strong center-backs. Paterson goes out with the family, Leland goes out with international duty, guys step up. We know what Juan has in him, we know that Juan is a very good target on restarts, but he also can cover a lot of ground. He’s done a tremendous job this season.
We just want to keep pushing. It’s going to be hard for all these guys every single day to keep pushing, keep grinding, but from there as we get a little bit better, we can coach better. We can take one day at a time.
Allan on his breakdown of the performance…
From the start, we brought the game to them. It was about a lot of grit. From the first whistle, we showed what we were capable of, just digging deep really. We knew our chances were going to come. We got clinical tonight and it paid off.
It starts with communication and all moving together. It is just that togetherness as well as being selfless. The runs off the ball are what really made it work tonight. Definitely that selfless running.
Allan on the victory building momentum for the second half of the season…
[The victory], it’s huge. Pittsburgh is on top of the league. Beating the top is tough, but also very, very rewarding, especially at this midpoint of the year. We’re really happy with that result. We just have to take it to the next game
Allan on how the crowd’s energy influenced the squad…
It’s great to have them. We really wouldn’t have the energy if it wasn’t for them. Every single home game, it’s a delight to play in front of the fans. It’s really great. And they bring the energy and we bring everything else.
The Battery are on the road again for a match against Birmingham Legion FC on Sat., July 29. Charleston then return to Patriots Point on Fri., Aug 4, to take on Oakland Roots SC. This home game will be the last match to feature the $3 beer promotion. Tickets are available now via SeatGeek.com, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.
CHS- Palma 11′ (Barajas)
CHS- Williams 45′ (Barajas)
CHS- Avila 56′
PIT- Harmon 71′
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