Battery win Eastern Conference title, punch ticket to USL Final

Published: Nov. 5, 2023 at 1:54 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (Nov. 5, 2023) – The Charleston Battery punched their ticket to the USL Final with a 2-1 victory over Louisville City FC in the USL Championship Eastern Conference Final at a sold-out Patriots Point on Saturday. An early goal from Arturo Rodriguez set the tone for the night and a second half conversion from the penalty spot by Augi Williams proved to be the difference. The victory propelled Charleston to the USL Championship Final for the first time since 2012.

The Battery will host Western Conference champions Phoenix Rising FC in the Final on Sun., Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. ET, the team the Battery opened their 2023 season against. Charleston will be vying for their fifth league title in club history.

Charleston’s night got off to an ideal start when their up-tempo offense started to pay dividends early. Nick Markanich won a free kick from a dangerous spot just outside the box when he drew a foul while running past Louisville’s defense. Arturo Rodriguez took the ensuing free kick and curled in a perfect strike into the top corner, putting the Battery ahead 1-0 in the 5th minute.

The goal was Rodriguez’s fourth of 2023 and second of the postseason.

Charleston continued to apply heavy pressure on Louisville and lived deep in their defensive half as time wore on, sending in 10 crosses (compared to two for LouCity) midway through the half. Derek Dodson nearly doubled the Battery’s lead in the 21st minute when his header hit off the crossbar.

Despite the fast start to the match, the pace of play began to cool in the latter stages of the first half. Goalkeeper Trey Muse was tested in the 41st minute to make his first, and only, save of the first half, denying Cameron Lancaster. The Battery took the 1-0 lead into the break.

Play resumed with both sides eager to make an impression in the second half. Markanich’s pressure and ability to draw fouls against LouCity paid off for Battery again in the 57th minute, this time winning a penalty.

Augi Williams stepped up to the spot and converted to double Charleston’s lead in the 58th minute. The goal was Williams’ 16th of 2023, matching his goal-scoring mark from last season.

The Battery remained resolute in taking their game to LouCity, providing pressure and nullifying opportunities for the visitors to find a way back into the match. Louisville were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute when Carlos Moguel Jr. was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red.

However, Louisville managed to pull one back in the 90th minute via Kyle Adams to make the score 2-1, setting up five nervy minutes of stoppage time as the visitors pushed to force extra time.

Charleston would hold on and prevented Louisville from recording a shot in stoppage time to secure the 2-1 victory, punching the Battery’s ticket to the USL Championship Final for the first time since 2012. The win was also the Battery’s first win over LouCity since 2018 and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Williams’ conversion from the penalty spot proved to be the winning goal, it was his ninth match-winner of 2023.

The Battery will host Western Conference champions Phoenix Rising FC in the Final on Sun., Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. ET. Charleston will be vying for their fifth league title in club history.

Head Coach Ben Pirmann, defender Leland Archer and forward Augi Williams addressed the media after the win, with key quotes to follow.

Coach Pirmann on the season journey that brought us to tonight’s result…

It’s been pretty consistent. There’s been some tough moments, like when we’re fighting and scrambling and losing games, but it was all about those boys. It’s been tough. We’ve been consistent every single day, kept our head down, worked our socks off.

Our front office did an incredible job getting this place ready. It was different. We scored early. We were on top of them. The crowd deserves that. Our young men fought and deserved the victory, but that was for the fans. That was incredible.

Coach Pirmann on the importance of starting the game strong…

We knew that they wanted to get out to a fast start. They’ve done it in a couple of games. We wanted to counter that and make sure we did it. Nick [Markanich] did a great job driving in the middle, drawing the foul. Then a great individual effort there from Arturo to put it in the top corner. I’m thrilled for them. That set the tone. Then we got the second one and they made it way too interesting at the end. But, you take the win and go with it.

Coach Pirmann on whether he imagined this result back at the start of the season…

We only focus on the things that we can influence. The results, the outcomes, you can’t change that. It’s gonna happen or it’s not. But, I knew this group had some special unit to it. Talent and ability for sure, but the work rate, the desire, the dedication to do whatever it takes. I told them in February, ‘if you do that, you’ll be very proud of where we are at the end of the season.’

Archer on his assessment of the season to this point…

It’s been a tough, long year. If you asked us if we would be here at the end, I don’t think any of us would have said that. I don’t think anybody expected us to be here, but we defied the odds and we’re here. We won the Eastern Conference

Williams on the home support tonight and dedicating the conference title to them…

It’s been an amazing feeling. We call them the twelfth man for a reason. They’ve always backed us from the beginning, even from last year. The guys over here, we can see it. For them to support us, to see it all the way through, it’s been very, very massive for us. As long as these guys are behind us, we’re gonna give them everything that we got.

The Battery will host Phoenix Rising FC in the USL Championship Final at Patriots Point on Sun., Nov. 12, at 7:00 p.m. ET. Playoff tickets will be available soon via, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.