If defense wins championships, then the Charleston Battery has been in postseason form for the last two weeks.
Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Charleston Battery
Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Charleston BatteryWhen: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.Where: Blackbaud StadiumTickets: 971-4625
With their postseason fate still in doubt as recently as two weeks ago, head coach Mike Anhaeuser figures the Battery shifted into playoff mode when they faced Rochester and Dayton in successive weeks to end the regular season.
In 180 minutes, the Battery did not allow a single goal, which gives the Battery plenty of momentum heading into tonight’s opening-round USL Pro Division playoff game against Harrisburg City. The Battery will take on the Islanders beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Blackbaud Stadium.
“We have defended very well for most of the season,” Anhaeuser said. “You can’t lose if you don’t give up a goal, and playing proper defense is such a huge key during the playoffs. The last two weeks we’ve done a very good job of keeping our shape and communicating in the back.”
Two weeks ago, the Battery traveled nearly 1,000 miles to Rochester, N.Y. and dismantled the Rhinos, 4-0, handing the team its worst home defeat in the franchise’s history. Last weekend, despite outshooting Dayton, 21-4, the Battery had to settle for a 0-0 draw against the Lions. But the two shutouts have the Battery’s defense brimming with confidence heading into tonight’s playoff game.
“I actually thought we played better against Dayton than we did against Rochester,” said Battery captain Colin Falvey. “We had just as many scoring chances against Dayton as we did against Rochester, but we didn’t finish. The difference was that Rochester had a couple of chances and we were a bit lucky to come away with a clean sheet.
“I don’t think we gave up a single chance to Dayton. We kept our shape and that’s the way we have to defend during the playoffs.”
The Battery split their two matches this season with Harrisburg City during the regular season. The Islanders blanked the Battery, 3-0, earlier this month as defender Kyle Hoffer was issued a red card in the 26th minute of the match. Within 10 minutes of Hoffer’s ejection, the Islanders scored two quick goals and never looked back.
“We were not very disciplined and it cost us the match,” Falvey said. “We got the red card and they took advantage with a couple of quick goals before we could settle down.”
The Battery beat the Islanders, 3-1, in the first meeting at Blackbaud Stadium in June. Jose Cuevas, Navion Boyd and Ryan Richter each scored in a game that saw the Battery outshoot the Islander, 16-8.
“When we played them 11 versus 11, I think we did well,” said Nicki Paterson, who leads the Battery with 10 goals this season. “We had the run of play and created chances all game.”
The Islanders are noted for their aggressive play offensively. Falvey doesn’t expect the Islanders to sit back and let the Battery dictate the style of play.
“If you can’t get up for a match like this, then you’re playing the wrong game,” Falve said.