Battery’s seven-game streak ends in Montreal

FC Montreal forward Anthony Jackson-Hamel heads upfield under pressure from Battery left back Taylor Mueller. FC Monteal photo.

Charleston Battery’s seven-game unbeaten streak collided with FC Montreal’s five-match run of futility Thursday at windy Stade Saputu Turf Field as the hosts earned their first USL victory, 1-0.

Montreal (1-5-0) claimed its win on the strength of a 28th-minute goal by Louis Beland-Goyette, a midfielder on loan from the team’s parent club, Montreal Impact of MLS. Beland-Goyette punished fill-in Battery goalkeeper Michael Lisch — who came on loan from Houston Dynamo on Wednesday — for his only notable mistake in an otherwise solid performance, catching the Charleston defense in a scramble after Lisch scoffed a clearance under slight pressure.

That goal before the half-hour mark shifted the balance of power on the pitch in Montreal’s favor, and only quality work by Lisch in four or five clutch situations over the next 62 minutes, plus stoppage, kept things close.

Battery Coach Mike Anhaeuser — down six men before kickoff due to international travel restrictions — used all four of his available outfield substitutes in the final 24 minutes of the second half as Charleston (5-1-2) threw everything it had at Montreal in search of an answer. The Impact’s USL side held firm through most of it — until the decisive play in stoppage.

Coming out of a restart in the attacking third, a ball contested near the top of the penalty area squirted out square to Zach Prince, who moved from midfield to right back on Thursday to cover for missing teammates. The College of Charleston alumni came away from the scrum with the ball on his right foot and a clear lane to challenge Impact homegrown goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. But his potential equalizer sailed off target into the blustery Quebec wind, and Prince’s three-game goal-scoring streak came to an end.

The loss by Charleston (5-1-2) took the pressure off conference-leading Rochester for the first time this season, and opened the door for third-place Richmond to at least temporarily reclaim sole possession of the second spot in the table with a win on Saturday. Charleston plays its second match of the week on Sunday night at New York Red Bulls II.

The Battery struggled to stay onside for much of the afternoon, picking up six offside calls, five of them in the first half alone. Most of those calls seemed to come against Dane Kelly, who put two of his team-leading four shots on frame, but struggled to break through FC Montreal’s defense.

The hosts had averaged two goals allowed per match heading into this game, and had the lowest goal-scoring rate in USL at 0.400.