As a defender, Taylor Mueller doesn’t get many chances to score during a normal season.
So when Mueller happens to be in the right place at the right time, he knows he has to make the most of his opportunity.
Mueller scored a goal and added an assist, while Dane Kelly scored a pair of goals to lead the Charleston Battery past Harrisburg, 4-1, Saturday night before a crowd of 4,523 at Blackbaud Stadium.
It was the second goal of the season for Mueller, who scored just before halftime when he half-volleyed Justin Portillo’s free kick into the back of the net to give the Battery a 2-0 lead.
“It’s always nice to score, and since I don’t get many chances I know I’ve got to make the most of them when I do get them,” Mueller said. “I didn’t really have much time to think about it. I was just reacting. When you get a volley like that during practice, you really want to smash them into the net. This was more of a reaction and just trying to get it on target. I got a nice deflection and I made sure I was onside and put it on target.”
The Battery were just 1-2-4 in their last seven USL games and had not won a league game in regulation since May 30 when they defeated Wilmington, 1-0. During that stretch the Battery had not scored more than a single goal in any single game.
“We talked about scoring goals, but more than that we needed to get back on a winning streak,” Mueller said. “We’d lost the last couple of games here lately. We just wanted to get back to winning again and give us a little momentum going into next week.”
The victory by the Battery (7-2-6, 27 points) sets up next week’s match between the top two teams in USL when the unbeaten and first-place Rochester Rhinos (9-0-5, 32 points) come to the Lowcountry on Friday night.
“It’s going to be a huge match and hopefully this gives us a little bit of momentum going into the match with Rochester,” said Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. “I think we’ve got the pace and the skill that will give them some issues.”
Kelly, who had not scored in his last five matches, got the Battery going early with a goal in the second minute from a long pass by Mueller. Kelly gathered the ball, fought off an Islanders’ defender, and then slotted the ball near post for the quickest goal of the season for the Battery.
“Dane did all the work, he’s having a great season,” Mueller said. “He fought their defender off, got the ball inside and then just made a great shot. He’s working hard and getting the goals he deserves.”
Getting that early goal was all the Battery attack needed as Charleston recorded 12 shots on goal during the match.
“Dane got that early goal and then we just kind of rode that wave,” Anhaeuser said. “You’ve got to commend the guys. It’s great to look up and have four goals. We score four goals and we’re going to win a lot of games if we can do that all season.”
Kelly put the Battery up 3-0 with a blast from 25 yards out 15 minutes into the second half.
“I wasn’t going to shoot it, but when I looked up, they’d given me all that space, so I decided to shoot it,” Kelly said.
Rookie Ricky Garbanzo gave the Battery a 4-0 advantage when he knocked off a Maikel Chang shot in the 75th minute.
Brett Jankouskas scored on a penalty kick in the 89th minute for Harrisburg.