Charleston Battery win Black and Yellow Derby with late Williams goal
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (September 2nd, 2023) – The Charleston Battery earned all three points in a 0-1 road victory at New Mexico United in front of a crowd of over 9,000 at Isotopes Park on Saturday. Augi Williams came off the bench and scored the match-winning goal in the 74th minute. Trey Muse recorded three saves en route to his 10th shutout of the season. The win brings the Battery within two points of clinching a playoff spot, which could be decided in their next match, at Patriots Point on Sat., Sept. 9.
The Battery started the night by dominating possession early, with over 65% retained through the quarter-hour mark. Goalkeeper Trey Muse made the first save of the night in the 4th minute with a routine denial of Amando Moreno.
Charleston kept up the tempo against the hosts, making more passes in the opposition’s half, but clear chances were hard to come by. Nick Markanich saw his shot on target in the 21st minute saved by Andrew Thomas and Tristan Trager’s strike in the 43rd minute was just wide of the post. The two sides went into the interval scoreless.
Play resumed for the second half with Charleston and New Mexico looking to make the decisive moment and break the deadlock. Robbie Crawford came up big in the 59th minute to block Harry Swartz’s shot inside the box.
The defining play would come in the 74th minute when Augi Williams, fresh off the bench, scored the go-ahead goal off a set-piece situation. Arturo Rodriguez, who subbed in with Williams, lifted a free kick into the box that was headed back centrally by Leland Archer. Markanich then redirected the ball toward goal and Williams provided the final glancing header to place the ball up into the net.
Williams brings his goal total to 12 across all competitions. The assist was Markanich’s second of the year.
Following Williams’ tally, New Mexico turned up the heat in search of an equalizer. Their efforts were threatening, but none could get past Muse, who registered three saves during the evening.
Charleston would hold on for their first-ever victory over New Mexico, a 0-1 triumph. The second consecutive victory elevates the Battery’s record to 14W-7L-7D (49 pts) at third in the Eastern Conference standings.
With the win and other results in the conference, the Battery’s magic number to clinch a playoff berth is 2 points, meaning a victory in their next match – at home on Sat., Sept. 9 vs. San Diego Loyal SC – would lock in Charleston’s spot in postseason play.
The Battery have now won a league-leading 28 points on the road this year.
Trey Muse tallied his 10th clean sheet of the season in the victory, adding to his career-high total. He is the first Battery shot-stopper to record double-digit shutouts in a season since Joe Kuzminsky achieved the feat in 2018 with 12.
Head Coach Ben Pirmann and forward Nick Markanich discussed the victory after the final whistle, with key quotes to follow.
Coach Pirmann on his assessment of tonight’s performance…
I thought we were very controlling of the ball, controlling of the game for about 82 minutes. We moved the ball well. [New Mexico] were tight defensively, they didn’t concede much. We knew they were dangerous on crosses and restarts. We denied them their attacks by keeping the ball but we didn’t create enough attacks, like clear-cut chances in the first half. Tristan had an amazing chance. We had two or three great crosses that went just inside the post and then to cap it off at the restart was deserving.
[New Mexico] played for their lives the last 10-15 minutes there and had a lot of crosses and free kicks and some restarts and some corners and evened the shots out a little bit. I thought we were in control of the game for the most part and we deserved to win all three points.
Coach Pirmann on the tenacity of the squad to earn another late victory…
We talk about this week in and week out. My life is difficult when selecting rosters and selecting players. We had two changes, Fidel and Deklan weren’t available, Andrew Booth went and played a great game and Robbie Crawford had top performance while playing out of position. Augi [Williams] off the bench gets the winner. Pierre [Reedy], [AJ] Cochran and Arturo [Rodriguez] were great as well off the bench.
It’s their job to make life difficult for me. Whatever that decision is from the coach, they go and perform as high as they can and I thought they did. Our aggression and our assertiveness were there. We just have to get a little bit better, more consistent and calmer in the final 15 to 20 yards, but otherwise, we were really dominant in a lot of ways.
Coach Pirmann on the significance of taking home three points at this point in the season…
We take it moment by moment, minute by minute, day by day, play by play, game by game. We had a good week of training, building into it. Travel is always tough, but we were focused and ready to go. From kickoff, we carried the play on our terms in a really tough and difficult place to play. I thought we deserved to win and that is three more points on the table. We’re having a great season, but it’s about taking it one game at a time.
We want to be a playoff team. We’re getting closer and closer to that. If we can be fortunate enough to be a playoff team and clinch that, then we want to take it game by game and push from there and see the best we can do. When all these teams in the Eastern Conference are winning and getting points, we have to win just to try to stay competitive and be a playoff team.
All the remaining games all going to be playoff games; the focus, the fine margin, the details, the restarts, the attention to detail, you name it, it has to be there. The boys are really dialed in. We just have to stay focused. Another tough game next weekend, but we just want to keep getting better.
Markanich on the adversity to overcome during the night against New Mexico…
We knew coming in that New Mexico were a good team and that we were going to have some challenges against them. We stuck to our game plan throughout the game. It was good to get a goal at the end and keep the shutout. New Mexico is a hard place to play. It’s never very easy playing at a baseball field, but I think the team did well.
At halftime, Coach Pirmann said to clean up in the final third, take more opportunities and just keep going at them. I thought we had some good opportunities and we limited their opportunities. That was really good. Some of the guys were getting a little tired from the altitude towards the end, but the subs came in and helped us and the level didn’t drop. They came in and worked hard.
Markanich on what he saw on the match-winning goal that he assisted…
At first, I saw the ball was going over me and going to Leland, so I held my run. It came up to me and I just tried to hit on goal, good thing Augi was there. I don’t know if it was going in or not, but Augi headed it in, which is good, we’ll take the win. I was joking around with the coaches and Augi a little bit, but as long as we win, I don’t care who scored it. I think the keeper was saving it, after looking at the video, but it was good Augi touched it in.
Markanich on building upon this win next weekend in the return to home…
Like Coach said, every game is a playoff game, so that’s how we have to treat it. The last six games are going to be hard to games and we’ve got to keep winning to put us in a good playoff spot. Hopefully we get a home playoff game. It’s always nice to play at home. Everything is good about it, playing at home, we’re always excited to play it at home. We know San Diego is going to be a good team coming in, so we’re looking forward to it.
The Battery return home on Sat., Sept. 9, for a high-stakes match against San Diego Loyal SC at Patriots Point. Tickets are available now via SeatGeek.com, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.