On Wednesday night, high-scoring Battery midfielder/striker Nicki Paterson finally got off the schneid for 2013 when he knocked in a penalty kick that would eventually count for the winning goal in Charleston’s visit to Harrisburg. He responded to a congratulatory Tweet this way:
— Nicki Paterson (@nickipaterson8) May 2, 2013
The goals didn’t exactly come in a flood Friday night, but as predicted, Paterson scored again Friday, burying a penalty kick in the 33rd minute as the Battery went on to beat the Dayton Dutch Lions 1-0 at suburban Beavercreek High School Stadium. It was Paterson’s second penalty kick goal in about 48 hours, and it was more than the hosts could overcome.
In the interests of transparency, there are several things I should confess up up front. First, the livestream from Dayton was more than a little difficult to decipher. Second, with Friday night being a live-music night at Molly Darcy’s I wasn’t able to listen to the live audio, which might have helped a bit. Third, due to a bit of confusion, the stream wasn’t activated at the bar until 5:20 minutes into the match. And finally, there was beer.
Those conditions made it feel like I was watching the game through a drinking straw, so I can report only some observations, the preliminary official stats, and what others told me.
The only lasting impression I formed was that I’d just watched an instantly forgettable 94-minute ping-pong match, except with a much bigger ball and players who occasionally slammed into each other. Call it an ugly but ultimately effective Battery performance against a Dayton team that had previously managed a 2-1-0 record despite being out-shot 19-55 by its first three opponents. Tonight, the Dutch Lions finally won the shot battle, surpassing Charleston 10-7 on the official score sheet. Fat lot of good it did them.
The scorer also credited Charleston goalkeeper Kevin “Godzilla” Klasila with five saves. Which came as news to the big guy from California.
“Honestly, I don’t remember having to make a save,” Klasila said during a phone interview from the team bus. “I did have to come out on a few crosses. Maybe some balls that bounced in to me. But nothing too crazy.
“It was just a kind of constant flow of pressure. Nothing too bad. Our defense was really solid tonight… We just managed the game well, and did whatever we had to do to get the win on the road.”
The clean sheet was Charleston’s third of the season, but it was Klasila’s first. Despite playing well through the preseason, the second-year-man lost a close competition for the starting keeper job to talented Cuban international Odisnel Cooper, whose 3-1-0 record as a regular-starter includes two shutouts and five goals conceded. Friday was Klasila’s season debut.
“(Coach) told me the morning before Harrisburg,” Klasila said. “He pulled me aside and he was like ‘Hey, we’ve got back-to-back games and I just wanted to let you know that you’re going to be starting on Friday, just so you can get your mind ready.’ And basically that was pretty much it. He said ‘You haven’t been doing anything wrong. You’ve been playing well. Just keep doing what you’re doing and I just wanted you to get prepared for the game on Friday.’ So that was it, and it was nice to know beforehand.
“We went into (Dayton) knowing it wasn’t going to be the prettiest game. It was on a small, turf field, a high school stadium. Not the best for our style of play. So we just did whatever it took to get the win. It was not pretty. But ping-pong, tennis, whatever you call it, it got the job done.”
Is it a pleasant surprise to be coming home from this two-game swing with maximum points?
“Definitely not a surprise,” Klasila said. “That was our goal all along. Coach said it well before the game. He said three points on the road is good, four points on the road is great, and six points is perfect. And we’re always striving for perfection.”
Good for the team
“It’s difficult on the road, especially in places like Dayton and Harrisburg, that have a good home record,” Falvey said. “So it’s a tremendous six points, but I think we were quite confident to come up here. I think we all expected three or four points at a minimum.”
But what should fans make of the team’s disjointed performance Friday night? Should they chalk it up to the multiple changes in Charleston’s lineup (midfielder Quinton Griffith at right back for Mark Wiltse, Taylor Muller at centerback for Cody Ellison, Emmanuel Adjetey at left midfield, Amadou Sanyang getting his first start of the season at the defensive midfield spot that was his before his March 30th concussion, plus Bryce Alderson‘s debut in USL PRO and and Maikel Chang‘s first league start)? Or should they credit Dayton with disrupting the Battery’s flow?
“I think it was a little combination of things,” Falvey said in an interview over Klasila’s phone. “Obviously, with a lot of changes, some people haven’t played together. So we’re kinda feeling each other (out) a little bit. It’s a little bit different from practice. So with a lot of changes like that, it can bring a little bit of uncertainty. But everyone did their job. Coach got it right. Lots of people got (a game) under their belt, and they’ll learn from that and get stronger. And also the team, I think, will get better from it, because everybody’s chipped in over the two games.”
The captain said he thought Adjetey played well in both road matches, but as for tonight’s match? “I don’t think there was any one great performance… but I think everybody was pretty solid.”
Dormant in Dayton
With the exception of the home-opener against Antigua, the Battery have produced only average offensive numbers so far this season, never quite rising to the attacking form they occasionally flashed during February and March. With Jose Cuevas and Ben Fisk back in Charleston, Griffith taking a turn at fullback, and Dane Kelly and Zach Prince on the bench to start the game, the best individual number the Battery could manage was three shots from starting center forward Heviel Cordoves.
On the Dayton side, former Battery 2013 preseason trialist Gibson Bardsley was second of the team with two shots, but another number stood out on his stat-line: Four fouls, the most by any player. Bardsley picked up his share of fouls and cautions during his stint here as well.
Though my notes don’t detail any standout plays, the Battery’s game story mentions a couple:
The Battery started well and came close to scoring in the 8th minute from a well worked set-play. Defender Taylor Mueller took a long throw from the left side that Paterson flicked on at the near post. The ball flashed across the face of goal but was just out of reach for forward Heviel Cordoves.
The Battery hit Dayton on the counter-attack several times with the best chance coming in the 64th minute after some good wing play by Emmanuel Adetey. Adjetey crossed to Austin Savage at the back post who square the ball back inside for Dane Kelly who couldn’t quite get a clean connection on his left-footed shot.
Let the floodgates open
Paterson’s second score of the season came as the result of a Dutch Lions’ hand-ball in the 32nd minute. And for the second time in two matches, the referee appeared to hesitate before making the call. Against Harrisburg, it took a conference before the officials credited him with his penalty kick, and against Dayton it took a few extra seconds before the ref pointed to the spot.
The play, as Paterson described it, “was a long ball over the top, and I just tried to put the (defender) under some pressure, and got a little touch on it. And then as I touched it, it kinda bounced down and bounced up off his arm… Basically the main referee said he didn’t have a view of it, and the linesman raised his flag and the referee went over there and got it right.”
After being frustrated by disallowed goals and near-misses in the first three matches of the season, Paterson is right back near the top of the team scoring list with goals in consecutive games. Does that constitute floodgates opening?
“I hope so. I’ll definitely keep trying, that’s for sure.”
Speaking of bouncing back, the win gives the Battery 12 points out of a maximum of 15 this season, good enough to move them into temporary possession of third place in the USL PRO table. Charleston has a game in hand on Orlando, which leads the league with 13 points. Los Angeles and Tampa also have 12 points, but each has played seven games to Charleston’s five.
Said Battery President Andrew Bell in summary: “We defended very well, and we won the physical battles we needed to win. And then we took our chance. And that’s really the way the game went. It’s a good result. On the back of the win in Harrisburg, I think we’re very pleased with the way the trip went. ”
Watch party notes
The fan turnout at Molly Darcy’s was about half what the Harrisburg match drew on Wednesday, and the livestream from Dayton made everyone on hand appreciate the job Harrisburg did of providing a good (by USL PRO standards) webcast of the game.
We didn’t get the match audio because of the live music, but on the bright side the live music wasn’t bad. I was particularly impressed by the way the guy got through “Sweet Caroline” despite forgetting the second verse and appealing to the crowd for help. That’s showmanship.
No players showed up, but we were joined by operations assistant John Nugent Jr. from the Battery front office, and Austin Savage’s mom, Tina Savage. So that was cool.
The Battery drive all night, then basically go straight out to Brittlebank Park on the Ashley River to defend their title at the Dragonboat Festival. I’ll be out there for some of that.
Then it’s back to a “normal” week of training before the Saturday rivalry game against Wilmington on Saturday, May 11.