Rhinos goalie gets best of Battery

tyrone walker/staff The Battery’s Sallieu Bundu battles for control of the ball Saturday.

The Charleston Battery threw everything but the kitchen sink at Rochester Rhinos keeper Kristian Nicht on Saturday night.

But the way Nicht was playing, he probably would have made a save against the kitchen sink as well.

Nicht collected 10 saves, including seven in the first half, and Danny Earls scored in the 61st minute to lead Rochester past Charleston, 1-0, before a crowd of 3,487 at Blackbaud Stadium.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Battery (4-2-0, 12 points). Rochester improved to 6-0-0 (18 points) and jumped into first place in the USL Pro Division.

Coming into the game, the Rhinos and Nicht had not surrendered a goal all season in five matches.

Make that six. “I don’t want to even look at the statistics,” said Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. “It looked like (Nicht) had flypaper on his hands, his belly, his jersey and the goal. Sometimes you come up against a goalie that has a great night and that was the case tonight. We created so many chances, and give Nicht credit, he had the answer for us.”

On paper, it was a one-sided affair as the Battery dominated just about every major statistical category except the most important one — the scoreboard. Charleston outshot Rochester, 20-2, and had 12 corner kicks to the Rhinos’ two.

“If this was a boxing match, they would have stopped it in the first half,” said Charleston captain Colin Falvey. “We pummeled them. We should have won 4-0 or 5-0 with the chances we got, but we couldn’t finish.”

The Battery had four or five quality scoring opportunities inside the six-yard box midway through the first half.

Jose Ceuvas and Nicki Paterson, who each have five goals already this season, had point-blank opportunities only to have Nicht somehow come up with the save.

“That was the best we’ve played all season in the first half,” Paterson said. “It was a frustrating game. To get that many chances and to not score is almost unbelievable. We’ve been able to put those chances away for most of the season.”

Later in the first half, Falvey had a header that a Rochester defender cleared off the goal line and Navion Boyd nearly scored in the 32nd minute only to have Nicht make a diving punch to end the threat.

“We can’t get too down on ourselves,” said Charleston midfielder Tony Donatelli. “If we were not getting those chances it would bother me more. We were just a bit unlucky a couple of times and their keeper made a couple of great saves.”

The Battery, which had recorded three straight shutouts coming into the match, smothered the Rhinos attack for most of the night. The one chance they did get came on a broken play when Earls blasted a shot from 25 yards out for the game’s only goal.

“Defensively we were solid,” Anhaeuser said. “We didn’t give up much, they didn’t really push the ball forward, but when they did we were able to handle it. They got one chance and made the most of it.”