Battery smash Indy 5-0 to advance to Conference Semifinal
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Oct. 22, 2023) – The Charleston Battery demolished Indy Eleven, 5-0, in the USL Championship Eastern Conference Quarterfinal on Sunday at Patriots Point. Five different goalscorers found the back of the net: Emilio Ycaza, Augi Williams, Arturo Rodriguez, Fidel Barajas and Nick Markanich. Goalkeeper Trey Muse notched his 13th shutout of the year.
The Battery advance to the Conference Semifinals to host Birmingham Legion FC on Sat., Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. ET. Tickets for the match are available now via SeatGeek.com, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.
Charleston’s start to the night proved to be a sign of what was to come as they scored early and often. Emilio Ycaza flew in on a corner kick in the 12th minute and knocked in the opening goal, assisted by Arturo Rodriguez, sending the packed Patriots Point crowd into a frenzy. The goal was Ycaza’s third of the year.
The Battery kept rolling through the first half, overwhelming Indy relentlessly. Augi Williams lined up a shot from the edge of the box with enough power to make it through the hands of goalkeeper Tim Trilk, who appeared to make the save initially. The goal was set up by Nick Markanich’s high press to force the turnover and he was credited with the assist. Williams’ goal tally ascended to 15 in 2023 with the strike.
Rodriguez, fresh off providing the assist, etched his name into the scoresheet in the 40th minute with an exclamation mark before halftime. Fidel Barajas set up Rodriguez with a cross into the box and Rodriguez flew in with a header for the goal. The goal was Rodriguez’s third of the year; Barajas’ 10th assist.
Goalkeeper Trey Muse handled the first half with relative ease and needed to make only one save in the first half, the only one he’d make all night.
Charleston picked up right where they left off in the second half, a signal that the rout was officially on against the Eleven. Barajas and Rodriguez combined again in the 47th minute but this time Barajas found the back of the net to make the score 4-0. The assist was Rodriguez’s second of the night and sixth of the year.
With a commanding lead in hand, Charleston kept their foot firmly on the gas, almost as if to atone for the 0-4 defeat handed to them by Indy back in June. It was Markanich’s turn to enter the scoresheet in the 63rd minute, he crashed into the box at the perfect time to send a cross by Williams into the net to make it 5-0. The goal brought Markanich’s 2023 tally to 12.
The Battery’s domination of the match was unwavering the club saw out the victory to punch their ticket to the Conference Semifinals, a 5-0 thrashing of Indy. Charleston’s return to the postseason also brought their first victory over Indy since 2019.
The victory was a noteworthy one for Barajas, Markanich and Juan Sebastian Palma, who all made their debut in the USL Playoffs.
Muse’s shutout brings his clean sheet total to 13 for the year.
Charleston’s win bucked the trend of upsets in the Eastern Conference after seeds Nos. 1, 2 and 4 lost on Saturday.
Head Coach Ben Pirmann and midfielder Emilio Ycaza addressed the media after the win, with key quotes to follow.
Coach Pirmann on the strong performance tonight…
I was thinking at the 9th or 10th minute that I’d love an early goal and thought ‘no, it’s playoffs. You’re not going to get one until 70th or 80th minute.’ Then, 12th minute, we got one. Scoring early, especially when you’re playing well, is really important. But for us, it was about managing the emotions. And, managing the emotions is playing with intensity, using fear, using encouragement, whatever it is that motivates you to push our opponent back. We did that very well. I’m so proud of this team.
Coach Pirmann on the team’s mindset going into tonight’s match…
We knew that [Indy] were going to be very good in the build-up phases and that they create central overload, numbers up. We wanted to use our energy. Both teams have 11 players. I said, ‘if you run like 12, 13, 14, the game is ours.’ If we’re static, not anticipating and we’re not together and communicating, then it’s an even game. Our boys ran, they fought, they did whatever it took. We knew what we needed to do, they went out and executed. It was a top performance.
Coach Pirmann on the significance of tonight’s playoff victory at Patriots Point…
It was great. We do this for our supporters. For us, just having a great performance, having five goals and being able to do it again in a week, that’s what matters.
I’m pretty proud of the way we’ve done things for the last nine months. This is a long season. It’s long for [our supporters], it’s long for us. It’s long for everybody. We were so eager and excited to represent the Black and Yellow.
Ycaza on mentality going into the game tonight that led to success…
We talked a lot about patience and I think that was the motto. Whether it was the first minute or up into the 90th, we needed to have patience and when we didn’t have the ball and when we had the ball, to just move it around and wait for the space to open up. That got everyone off to a really quick start there, the goal really settled us into the game.
Ycaza on how the other results in the playoffs impacted the squad going into tonight…
We don’t focus too much on that. We’ve got Birmingham again here and we’re playing at home. I definitely think it was an advantage to play second. We saw every home team in the East lose. When you’re hosting and other teams come at you, you can let the foot off the gas. Coach [Pirmann] said to us that we need to win. It doesn’t matter if we’re home or away, so we won here today and we get to play home again.
Ycaza on the impact of the home support in the game tonight…
This crowd, the fans tonight were amazing. They’ve been amazing all year. It’s just building into a really, really special atmosphere here. We take it one step at a time. Obviously, now we go and we celebrate. First couple of days of the week we’re going to recover and then we start planning for Birmingham again.
The Battery will host Birmingham Legion FC in the USL Championship Eastern Conference Semifinals at Patriots Point on Sat., Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. ET. Playoff tickets are available now via SeatGeek.com, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.
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