Trager’s brace propels Battery to clinch a playoff spot in 2-0 win over San Diego

Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 12:46 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (September 9, 2023) – The Charleston Battery secured a 2-0 victory over San Diego Loyal SC and clinched a spot in the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs at Patriots Point on Saturday. Tristan Trager’s brace powered the Black and Yellow to victory as the club will enter postseason play for the first time since 2020. Trey Muse kept his 11th clean sheet, tied for most in the league, against the second-best offense in the Championship.

Charleston began the night with a clear objective: win and clinch a spot in the playoffs. They took the game to San Diego early with their high-pressure offense but were unable to find a way past goalkeeper Koke Vegas for much of the first half.

On the opposite end, Trey Muse made two saves in the first 45 minutes to keep San Diego off the board. The Battery defense did an admirable job keeping the league’s second-best offense at bay and while without several usual starters due to international duty.

The Battery broke open the game in the stoppage time right before halftime when Tristan Trager scored the first goal of the night. Pierre Reedy forced the issue with an inviting cross into the box that was only half-cleared by Loyal SC. Trager then pounced on the opportunity with a sinking strike to the back of the net.

Trager’s late tally gave the Battery a 1-0 lead into the break.

Play resumed with Charleston picking up right where they left off. Trager again was the man of the moment and scored his second goal of the night with a smooth finish in the 47th minute. Derek Dodson sent in a cross into the box and Trager hit the ball first time to beat Vegas.

The brace brings Trager’s goal tally to five across all competitions this year. Dodson’s assist was his fifth of the season.

Charleston’s grip on the match tightened as the second half wore on. The hosts limited Loyal SC’s chances while continuing to create their own in search of a third goal.

The Battery secured the 2-0 victory over San Diego and punched their ticket to the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs in doing so. The win was also the first for the club over San Diego and brings Charleston’s record to 15W-7L-7D (52 pts).

Charleston return to postseason play for the first time since the shortened 2020 season and they will now look to host their first playoff game since 2018 with a top-four finish.

In addition to the victory, the Battery have now kept three consecutive clean sheets, bringing Trey Muse’s shutout total to 11. That mark puts Muse at tied for the league lead.

The win carried extra meaning for Leland Archer as the skipper made his 125th appearance overall for the club.

Head Coach Ben Pirmann and forward Tristan Trager discussed the victory after the final whistle, with key quotes to follow.

Coach Pirmann on how meaningful it was to clinch a playoff spot tonight at home…

That for me is more for our owners and executives in our front office. I stepped in to do a job and these players are the ones that executed it. Devin [Rensing], Leigh [Veidman], Brian [Jones], Eric [Salley], they’re top coaches; we’re fortunate to have the staff that we do. They do a tremendous job with our players. I’m so proud of [our players], they perform and that’s step one. We’ll take it to step two next week against a really tough Loudoun team. We’ll enjoy this and I’m happy for everybody.

The fans are why we do this. Our crowds the last six home games have been unbelievable. They urge the whole club’s performance. This is everybody. This is the executives and the owners and our supporters and coaches and staff and the players and everybody and anybody in between. Hopefully, there’s some ballboy here watching us who’s going to score 20 goals some year in his career.

Coach Pirmann on tonight’s performance against a strong San Diego side…

We dictated the game. [San Diego are] the number two goal-scoring team. They’re probably the best team in the league in possession and moving the ball, but we were dangerous. I thought we could have had a couple more [goals]. We really only conceded the one chance that Trey had to make the dive on, but we were comfortable and that’s what we wanted.

It was a full team performance. We were missing five guys and had to make a sub 25 minutes in as well to a key player. We just said, ‘next man up, everybody’s involved.’ That’s what this team is about, that’s what this club is about. Ultimately to clinch the playoffs with that type of performance is top.

Coach Pirmann on Trager leading the team to victory with a brace…

[Tristan Trager is] always dangerous, whether or not he’s in control to take the chances and finish them. He’s had some injuries, so I was proud to see him put away two good finishes. I was really proud of the team to create all those moments. We had half a dozen more that were really exciting. Whether it was transition or organize, build or restart, top performance. Proud of those boys, proud of this club and I’m humbled and excited to be here.

Trager on what was working well on offense tonight…

San Diego play in a unique way with their goalkeeper coming out. That allowed for some gaps in transition, especially on the second goal. I found a gap and I knew Derek [Dodson] was gonna service, so that contributed to the second goal. Overall, we suffered a bit when they had possession. They’re a good team and move the ball around well, but we knew in those counter-attacking moments that there were going be some gaps with their three in the back. We succeeded on it and ended up coming out with a win.

Trager on how meaningful it was to clinch playoffs tonight with his brace…

I haven’t scored at home in a while, so it feels good going into the last push of the season and in the playoffs now. [Clinching playoffs tonight] means a lot. We all have been working so hard for this moment to clinch playoffs. Now we just have got to take it one game at a time and hopefully, keep working on the things that we can improve on and continuing to do the things we do well and push on in the playoffs.

Trager on rewarding the fans with a playoff spot…

Oh yes, for sure, it feels good to reward these fans and bring the club back to where it’s supposed to be with the amount of history it has. The fans are great. When they come out, they really push us on, full of energy.

The Battery head to Virginia to play Loudoun United FC on Sat., Sept. 16 in their next match. Charleston then return to Patriots Point on Sat., Sept. 23, to take on FC Tulsa for Hispanic Heritage Night. Tickets are available now via, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.