USL News Release
Saturday, August 28, 2010
CHARLESTON, S.C. – It took a spectacular finish, but the Charleston Battery held on to defeat the Richmond Kickers, 2-1, to capture the 2010 United Soccer Leagues Second Division Championship in front of 4,523 at Blackbaud Stadium. If not for a pair of clutch saves and a little bit of luck, the ending could have been much different.
“It was exciting for all the fans but not for a coach,” Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser said of a final five minutes that saw Richmond skim one off the crossbar and have the potential tying goal headed off the line by a defender. “It made it exciting for everyone here and made for a great finish, and it showed what this team is all about.”
Goals from Lamar Neagle and Ian Fuller staked Charleston to a 2-0 lead, but the Kickers fought back and pulled within one after a tally in the 73rd minute by Edson Elcock. With Charleston playing a man down for the final hour, Richmond turned on the heat and the national television audience watching on Fox Soccer Channel was treated to a heart-stopping finish. Elcock skipped one off the crossbar in the 89th minute, and Fuller came to the rescue to head away a Matt Delicâte shot ticketed for the top corner in the final seconds.
“[Delicâte] had a great strike on it and it just came right to me and I reacted,” said Fuller, who also had a hand in the first Charleston goal. “That’s the kind of team they are; they’re going to fight through everything. They’re a quality side.
“Once they got a goal, it’s in the back of your mind that it may not happen, but at that point we were still a goal up and we were fighting through it. Tim [Melia] made some great saves and our back line was superb.”
Richmond Head Coach Leigh Cowlishaw believed his squad would’ve had a great chance to win in extra time if it had found the second goal.
“We thought we had a good chance to tie the game and then go on to win it, no question,” Cowlishaw said. “When you play against a team that goes down to 10 men you expect that you can go out and find a way to win it. Charleston showed that they are true champions. They got that second goal and they hung in there.”
The title is Charleston’s third since the team was founded in 1993, the second in USL-2. The Battery captured the 1996 title before moving up to the A-League, where they took home the 2003 championship.
The regular season champions threatened first 15 minutes in when a long ball from midfield forced Richmond keeper Ronnie Pascale just outside his box where he managed to disrupt the play against a hard-charging Alioune Gueye. Pascale barely managed to avoid a hand ball on the play.
A short time later Charleston threatened again, with league scoring champ and MVP Neagle flicking a header to the far post that fellow striker and game MVP Tom Heinemann just couldn’t get to. On Charleston’s next attack they broke through, with Mike Zaher’s corner in the 26th minute finding Fuller, who turned and fired low. Heinemann used a deft back-heel to redirect the ball to Neagle, who slotted it home to give the hosts the lead.
A straight red in the 29th for Charleston’s Colin Falvey quickly changed the tone and renewed the defending champs’ hopes. Falvey was whistled for tripping up Richmond striker Delicâte, who had broken through the defense and was headed in on goal. Richmond, which defeated Pittsburgh, 2-0, in the Semifinal, failed to capitalize on the ensuing free kick. With Falvey off Charleston dropped into a more defensive formation, moving Neagle into the midfield and leaving Heinemann alone up top.
Delicâte had Richmond’s best chance of the first half on a header from 10 yards in stoppage time, but the ball fell into the hands of Battery keeper Tim Melia and the half ended 1-0.
It only took six minutes in the second half for Charleston to extend the lead, with Fuller burying a volley off Pascale’s fingertips after Heinemann out-jumped a pair of Richmond defenders to win the ball.
Richmond came close to pulling one back soon after, with Melia getting a hand Elcock’s header to preserve the lead. The Battery dropped into a defensive shell the rest of the way, giving up the majority of the possession to Richmond but keeping most of the action away from their goal until the final minutes.
The Kickers finally broke through when second team All-League defender Sascha Gorres fed Elcock in the box and he made no mistake, burying a low shot inside the far post to make the score 2-1.
Charleston’s Melia finished the game with eight saves, while Pascale managed a pair. The Richmond pair of Delicâte and Ti Shipalane led the game with four shots apiece.