A week ago in the regular season finale against Dayton, Charleston forward Nicki Paterson had a chance to put the game away on a penalty kick and failed to convert.
Down a goal late in the first half Saturday night against Harrisburg City, Paterson faced a similar penalty kick scenario with a chance to tie the game and give the Battery some much needed momentum heading into the locker room.
This time, Paterson did not fail.
Paterson scored on a penalty kick and Tony Donatelli got the game-winner in stoppage time during the first half as the Battery rallied to beat Harrisburg City, 2-1, in the opening round of the USL Pro Division playoffs before a crowd of 2,718 at Blackbaud Stadium.
The Battery will travel to Rochester, N.Y., next Friday night to take on the Rhinos in the USL Pro semifinals.
Paterson, the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals during the regular season, has been almost automatic on penalty kicks. He had converted all three of his penalty kick chances during the season until last week’s miss against Dayton.
When Paterson stepped up to the ball against Harrisburg City, his recent miss had long been forgotten.
“I’ve got confidence that I’ll score on a penalty,” Paterson said. “The goalie made a great save last week. It happens. You’ve got to put that out of your mind when you take your next penalty.”
But just in case, Paterson decided to shoot to the far post against the Islanders instead of the near post like he did last week against Dayton.
“I don’t really have a set shot or location,” Paterson said. “I don’t go up there with a plan. I just see where the goalie is and hopefully he gives away which way he’s going to lean.”
After a strong start that saw the Battery nearly score twice in the opening 10 minutes, Harrisburg City shocked the home crowd with a perfect build-up and beautiful cross that led to Brian Ombiji’s goal in the 16th minute.
“That was a bit frustrating because we’d had some chances and didn’t score, and then they got one chance and it’s in the back of our net,” said Charleston captain Colin Falvey. “We didn’t get down. We just stuck to our game plan and kept pressuring them.”
Paterson’s penalty kick in the 40th minute was the result of a hand ball after a chaotic sequence in front of the Islanders’ goal. Charleston forward Jose Cuevas hit the goal post with his half-volley on what looked like a sure goal. Then the ball bounced out to the top of the 18-yard box and Paterson drilled a shot that deflected off of an Islanders defender and Nick Noble stopped on a diving save.
But referee Agostino Minasola immediately called for a penalty kick and got little argument from the Islanders.
Five minutes later in stoppage time, Donatelli and Cuevas combined on a perfect give-and-go resulting in a breakaway for the veteran midfielder that he easily finished past Noble.
“That’s the guy you want taking the shot in that situation,” said Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. “Tony has been our best finisher the last month of the season.”
The Battery had a couple of quality scoring chances in the second half, the best coming from Mark Wiltse on a long run from the back in the 83rd minute — but failed to increase their advantage.
“It would have been nice to get that third goal,” Anhaeuser said.
The Battery was forced to play the match without forwards Navion Boyd and Dane Kelly. Under Jamaican soccer federation rules, the players were recalled to their respective teams in Jamaica. The Jamaican professional season is set to start next week.