Coming into the month of July, Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser knew that a three-game homestand late in the month would be crucial for the Battery’s playoffs hopes.
The Battery, which started out the season so strongly, stumbled during a seven-week stretch in the middle of the season, going 0-3-6 in USL Pro competition from May 25 until July 13.
With three straight home matches at Blackbaud Stadium, Anhaeuser knew the Battery needed results to make a push for the postseason.
Dane Kelly, Nicki Paterson and Heviel Cordoves each scored to lead Charleston past Los Angeles, 3-0, Saturday night before a crowd of 4,614 at Blackbaud Stadium.
It was the third straight victory for Charleston (10-5-6, 36 points), which finished the homestand with a 3-0-0 mark and more importantly with nine points, all but solidifying a spot in next month’s USL Pro playoffs. Charleston vaulted into third place in the USL Pro standings with five games remaining in the regular season. The top four teams earn a home game in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Blues fell to 9-8-6 (33 points).
It was the second straight lopsided result for the Battery, which defeated Phoenix, 5-1, just three days earlier on the same field. The Battery’s attack has been hitting on all cylinders of late, outscoring its last three opponents by a 9-1 margin.
“These last three games have been massive for us,” Paterson said. “We’ve been outshooting teams, out-possessing teams and then having to settle for a draw or a loss. These last three matches have been exactly what we’ve needed. We didn’t care how we won. We won ugly (1-0) against Dayton, and that seemed to give us a bit of confidence going forward.”
Chances that the Battery was failing to convert on earlier in the season are finding their way into the back of the net now. The Battery outshot Los Angeles, 16-8, and more than doubled the Blues’ scoring chances.
“We’re clicking right now,” Anhaeuser said. “Everyone is starting to play well and click together. We’re defending properly and we’re getting that final bit of quality around the net and scoring. It’s been a great three games, but we can’t be satisfied with it. We’ve got five more games coming up.”
One of those games will come next Saturday night at Blackbaud Stadium against Richmond (12-0-8), a team that has not lost a game yet this season.
“We played a very good game against them up at their place, and we’re looking forward to getting them down here,” Anhaeuser said.
After a Colin Falvey goal was disallowed in the 11th minute for offsides, the Battery grabbed a 1-0 lead on Paterson’s sixth goal of the season in the 24th minute. Paterson got the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, stepped past a Blues defender and chipped the ball past Los Angeles goalie Carl Woszczynski for the score.
The Battery pushed their advantage to 2-0 on Kelly’s seventh goal of the season in the 55th minute. Quinton Griffith came storming down the left flank, beating two Blues defenders with his speed. Griffith crossed the ball to Kelly on the back post, who easily tapped it in for a goal. It was Kelly’s third goal in the last two games.
“Dane is playing with a lot of confidence,” Anhaueser said. “He’s been finishing fantastic the last two weeks in training, and you can see that carrying over to the games. It was a beautiful pass from Quinton coming down the wing.”
Cordoves put the finishing touches on the game, volleying in a perfect pass from mid-fielder Ben Fisk just before the start of stoppage time.
Battery’s Jose Cuevas brings the ball downfield against Los Angeles during their match Saturday at Blackbaud Stadium.×
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