After jumping out to an early 2-1 lead, the Charleston Battery faltered down the stretch and allowed a late goal to draw 2-2 against the Dayton Dutch Lions on Friday night at Blackbaud Stadium in front of a crowd of 3,081.
"We had the lead and the three points in hand but we have to close it out," said Battery head coach Mike Anhaeuser. "Unfortunately, we had a little breakdown in the back and they put it in. We need to keep our focus now. We have six more points to get at home."
The Battery jumped out to an early lead in the fifth minute. Forward Dane Kelly found himself with just the keeper to beat after midfielder Jarad van Schaik collected a turnover and quickly passed to Kelly in the middle of the field. Kelly took a few dribbles and calmly slotted the ball home from just inside the box.
Dayton responded quickly from a corner in the 10th minute. After Battery defender John Wilson made a tackle to force a corner, Dayton forward Cameron Vickers collected an assist when his pass from the corner found the head of defender Brock Granger, whose finish found the top right corner of the goal.
Charleston was able to add another goal in the 23rd minute. Battery midfielder Justin Portillo collected a pass from midfielder Maikel Chang at the top of the Dayton box and used some nifty footwork to pass by multiple Dayton defenders. After finding himself to the left of the six-yard box, Portillo passed across the goal mouth and found a streaking Adam Mena. Using his right foot, Mena poked the ball past Dayton keeper Matt Williams to make the score 2-1.
Neither team was able to do much early in the second half, but as the game started winding down, the Battery defense began to sit back and Dayton was able to tie the game in the 85th minute. After a defensive miscue put the ball at his feet, midfielder David Clemens scored his first professional goal with a shot from the edge of the box between the legs of Charleston keeper Odisnel Cooper.
"It's heartbreaking knowing the situation we are in now, but that's soccer," Portillo said about the late goal. "We are going to regroup, come back Wednesday and get three points."
Charleston will remain at home for its next match, facing off against the Orange County Blues at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Blackbaud Stadium.