The Charleston Battery did its part Thursday night against the Antigua Barracuda and now will have to wait and see if that was enough to earn a home playoff game next weekend.
Dane Kelly scored two goals and Odisnal Cooper recorded his seventh shutout of the season as Charleston cruised to a 3-0 win over Antigua before a rain-soaked crowd of 3,501 at Blackbaud Stadium.
With the victory, the Battery finished the regular season at 13-7-6 (54 points) and moved into third place in the USL Pro standings. The Barracuda, which have been outscored 87-10 this season, have failed to win or tie a game in 25 matches this season.
Now, Charleston will have to wait until Saturday night to learn who and where they will play in the opening round of the USL Pro playoffs. The top four teams will open the first round of the postseason at home.
Charleston is one point ahead of fourth-place Harrisburg City, which finishes up its season against Dayton on Saturday night. Fifth-place Charlotte trails Charleston by five points, but can pass the Battery with wins against Tampa Bay and Orlando this weekend.
“We’re not worried about anyone else right now,” said Charleston midfielder Jose Cuevas. “We did what we needed to do tonight, and now it’s out of our hands. I think our fans deserve a home game, but I’m confident we can go on the road and get a result against anyone right now.”
Charleston is an eye-popping 9-1-4 at Blackbaud Stadium this season. Only Orlando’s 11 home victories are more than the Battery’s this season.
“I think it will take a very good team to come in here and beat us at home,” said Charleston captain Colin Falvey.
“I think the boys are very confident about our chances when we play in front of our own fans.”
It was a workmanlike effort Thursday night against the worst team in the USL Pro. Antigua did not play a single home game this season, playing every game on the road. The Battery had already beaten the Barracuda 4-0 earlier in the season. The Battery outshot the Barracuda 22-7.
“I told the guys we needed to approach it like a business trip and for the most part I think they did that,” said Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. “Give Antigua credit, they kept their shape most of the night and made us work for the goals we got.”
After raining for most of the day on Daniel Island, the match began under cloudy skies, but no precipitation. About 20 minutes into the match, a steady rain began to fall. About 10 minutes into the second half, it began to pour, but by then the game had been decided.
“I felt like I was at home,” said Falvey, who is from Ireland. “I thought the conditions were fine until about the 70-minute mark.
“Then it got a little sloppy. I thought our touch was pretty good throughout the game.”
The Battery grabbed a 1-0 lead on an own goal by Antigua.
Charleston pushed its advantage to 2-0 on Kelly’s 10th goal of the season in the 51st minute.
After a corner kick, the ball bounced out to Kelly just outside the six-yard box. Kelly slammed the loose ball home for the score.
Kelly got his second goal of the night off another scramble in front of the net in the 65th minute.
“Dane has had a fantastic season, and we’re going to need to continue to score in the playoffs,” Anhaeuser said.
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