BY JOHN ACE
The Battery gave an assured performance Friday night to close their regular season, behind goals from Heviel Cordoves and Mamadou Diouf, and can go into the playoffs with their tails up.
Stealing the show was defender John Wilson, who was playing his last regular season game for the Battery as he prepares for retirement following the playoffs, and fans and players alike lined up to honor the man, who’s played a total of 269 games for the Battery, spanning 15 years.
There was another Battery great deserved of a send off as well, as captain Colin Falvey was unable to play following an agreement to go and play in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League.
The Battery opened the match a little sluggish, conceding an early free kick in a dangerous position. However, it was Wilson who cleared at the front post.
Despite the clearance, it wasn’t long before the Islanders were back at the home side, Taylor Meuller completing a sliding challenge that ended up going out for a goal kick after five minutes.
It was after another five minutes that John Wilson would play an excellent diagonal ball for Heviel Cordoves up top, but the striker was unable to finish off the chance.
Odisnel Cooper went down with an injury after a collision with a Harrisburg attacker inside his own area, but was able to shake off the knock pretty quickly.
After 21 minutes, Heviel Cordoves had another chance, but it rose over the bar and went wide.
Just a minute later, Cooper was forced into a fine save after the ball found Morgan Langley who poked it toward goal after a bit of pinball in the penalty area, but the Battery stopper got down well to palm away.
After 25 minutes, the stadium rose for a standing ovation for John Wilson, the Battery’s longtime #25.
After 28, Harrisburg player Richie Marquez collided with Heviel Cordoves, pushing the latter into the Battery bench, earning Marquez a spot in the referee’s book.
After 34, Shawn Ferguson went in with a risky challenge on the edge of the box, but the referee gave nothing as play resumed.
After 40 minutes, Odisnel Cooper had to pull off another miraculous save, this time, however, preventing an own goal after the ball deflected off of one of the central defenders. Thankfully for the Battery, the ball hit him straight in the midriff.
And Heviel Cordoves would capitalize on the away side’s lack of a finishing touch on the stroke of half time.
Zach Prince would play in Jarad Van Schaik, whose shot at the edge of the box was saved, before Cordoves would collect, make space and curl an effort off the post and in, putting the home side ahead.
They opened the second half as Jose Cuevas found John Wilson on the wing with nine minutes gone, who played a cross into the box, though it failed to find a man in black and yellow in the box.
But a minute later, Zach Prince would push out down the side, and found Emanuel Adjetey, who fit the ball through the defense for half time sub Mamadou Diouf, who ’rounded the Harrisburg ‘keeper and finished to give the home side a two goal lead.
Of note is the fact that this was Diouf’s second goal of the season, with his first and only goal coming to earn the team a draw in the first game of the season against Orlando.
After 61, Maikel Chang would come on for Jose Cuevas, who once again had a good night.
Two minutes later, Zach Prince, who’d been booked just a little while before, was replaced by Adam Mena.
Odisnel Cooper then picked up another knock with 25 to go after making another great save, but was again able to continue, although he wasn’t able to take goal kicks.
With 15 minutes to go, the Battery looked set for a clean sheet to close out the season, especially with Cooper in goal on point tonight, earning his eventual Man Of The Match award.
Cooper’s clean sheet was only broken, however, as Harrisburg got a consolation in stoppage time. While Cooper was probably disappointed at not having kept the shutout, he’d probably be the first to say that it could’ve been more, and that the win, which, shortly following kick off after the goal, was notched, was more important.
So, the Battery finish the regular season on a high after booking their place in the playoffs. At the moment, only their place is booked, while their opponent, the date of their first round tie, and the time of that tie has yet to be determined.
TOP IMAGE: HARRISBURG ‘KEEPER NICK NOBLE IS BEATEN BY HEVIEL CORDOVES’ SHOT TO OPEN THE SCORING. VIN DUFFY PHOTO