A dominant performance on offense and a stonewall defense saw the Charleston Battery get closer to the USLPRO playoffs with a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 4,181 at Blackbaud Stadium.
"We got knocked in the teeth on Wednesday at Sacramento but the players bounced back tonight," said Battery head coach Mike Anhaeuser after the match.
After nearly putting the Battery ahead in the 31st minute, Kelly opened the scoring with a marvelous left-footed shot. Zach Prince picked up the assist with a through ball into the box after collecting a pass from midfielder Jose Cuevas. After receiving Prince's pass, Kelly used one touch to beat his defender and ripped a shot into the right side of the goal.
Pittsburgh had an opportunity to tie the game in stoppage time of the first half. Charleston defender Quinton Griffith committed a foul in the box and the Riverhounds were awarded a penalty kick.
Pittsburgh forward Mike Green stepped up to take the penalty and Cooper saved the initial attempt, but Green poked the rebound past Cooper and began to celebrate. However, the goal was called off because Cooper was ruled to have stepped off the goal line on the initial penalty kick and the referee ordered the penalty be retaken.
Green took the second kick after a slight delay and sent his shot to Cooper's left. Cooper guessed correctly and made the second stop. The rebound fell to the feet of Charleston defender John Wilson, who quickly knocked the ball out of play.
The spectacular performance from Cooper earned him a standing ovation from supporters as the halftime whistle blew.
"Dane did a nice job scoring the first goal, but the biggest change was Cooper with the saves on the penalty," said Anhaeuser.
Kelly added his second goal just minutes after the second half started. Cuevas sent a ball down the left wing and Kelly beat his lone defender before slotting the ball past Riverhounds keeper Hunter Gilstrap to make the game 2-0 in the 47th minute.
Prince set up Kelly's final goal in the 54th minute when he found Kelly sprinting down the middle of the field 35 yards from goal. Kelly danced past one defender and the keeper before walking the ball towards the goal. Kelly blasted the ball home from five yards out to cap off his night and give the Battery a three-goal advantage.
Prince finished off the Riverhounds with a masterful goal in the 68th minute. Finding himself surrounded by Riverhounds in the middle of the field, Prince escaped the pressure by beating three defenders and fired a shot past Gilstrap to seal the game for Charleston.
"We are doing a great job of getting goals, and Cooper is keeping them out," said Anhaeuser. "We are doing things that we just couldn't do earlier in the year."