The Charleston Battery powered their way into the USL PRO playoffs behind a hat-trick from forward Dane Kelly and superb performances from goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper and midfielder Zach Prince, beating the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 4-0 on Saturday night in front of a crowd 4,181 at Blackbaud Stadium.
“We got knocked in the teeth on Wednesday at Sacremento but the players bounced back,” said Battery head coach Mike Anhaeuser after the match. “We are doing a great job of getting goals and Cooper is keeping them out.”
After nearly putting the Battery ahead in the 31st minute, Kelly opened the scoring with a marvelous left-footed shot in the 38th minute. 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 only to watch as Green poked the rebound past Cooper and began to celebrate. However, the referee waved off the goal because Cooper was ruled to have stepped off the goal line on the attempt. The referee gave Cooper a yellow card and 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 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.
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.
Kelly scored again in the 54th when a pass found him 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. He 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 strike in the 68th minute. Dante Marini got the play started when he passed the ball to Prince in the middle of the field on the edge of the box. Prince turned and found himself surrounded by defenders ,but his nifty footwork helped him escape before he finished with his right foot from 12 yards out.
After the two saves on the penalty kicks, Charleston keeper Odisnel Cooper continued to turn away shots in the second half to preserve the clean sheet for Charleston.
The Battery will next face the Harrisburg City Islanders in the final game of the USLPRO regular season on Friday, September 5 at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for Battery home games are available starting at $10, to purchase tickets or for more information please call 843-971-GOAL (4625) or visit www.charlestonbattery.com.