Emerging Division 1 powerhouse Coastal Carolina took an early lead on the Charleston Battery’s home turf but surrendered a first-half equalizer and endured a scoreless second stanza Wednesday evening on Daniel Island.
The 1-1 draw featured fewer players than Saturday’s casual preseason opener. Charleston opened the evening with a lineup comprised of six trialists (left back Chris Banner, centerback Drew Ruggles, midfielder Justin Portillo in a deep position, and attackers Dante Marini and Miguel Teos) and five returning players (defenders Taylor Mueller in the middle and Shawn Ferguson on the right, midfielder Amadou Sanyang playing farther up field than usual , winger Quinton Griffin — making his first appearance of the year — and forward Dane Kelly).
Coach Mike Anhaeuser gave the start in goal to Eric Shannon, an American keeper who apparently played professionally in Guatamala last year. Roughly midway through the first half, the veteran Mueller, who got the start at centerback sent Shannon an awkward back-pass that stranded his goalkeeper in a bad spot. With Shannon out of the play, Mueller hustled back and managed to salvage things with a deft clearance off the line. The resulting corner produced a Coastal header that clanged off the pipes, but the Battery held on.
A few minutes later, a Coastal player (I identified him as Ricky Garbanzo by appearance and number, but without the school’s gameday roster with numbers, I can’t confirm that) drilled a beautiful shot from inside the box that beat Shannon’s diving save attempt.
But with the half winding down, the Battery answered with an even better shot off the foot of Teos. The Upstate striker found a modicum of Zone 14 space and launched a burner from beyond the penalty box.
The final play of the half might have been the most memorable, with Griffith playing a great ball ahead to Marini, who fed it back to him as he ran past his marker. Coastal’s keeper stepped up, however, and made a good play to snuff out the chance.
After the break, Charleston returned with Griffith subbing in right back next to Colin Falvey, Mueller and Banner across the line. Sayang dropped back a bit to join Jarad van Schaik in central midfield, giving the Battery a three-man attacking crew of trialist Luciano Delbono and veterans Austin Savage and Zach Prince operating behind lone-forward Kelly. Former Tampa Bay Rowdies backup Will Dieterich got the second-half start, and recorded the best save of the night.
Anhaeuser subbed freely for this unit, letting former Cuban international Andy Ramos finish out the night in goal, while benching his top players to give trialists more minutes. Other than a nice through-ball from Prince and another beautiful cross from Griffith to Kelly, the Battery didn’t generate particularly strong chances. Delbono got himself into a great position in the attacking third but opted to attempt a difficult pass instead of going to goal. Kelly’s twin brother, Dean Kelly, got things going twice, but his chances were unsupported and came to nothing.
The Battery gave 17-year-old Academy prospect Avery Ryan a few late minutes. The West Florence High School student has committed to attend High Point University in the fall.
Perhaps the biggest news of the evening was the return of Battery strikers Heviel Cordoves and Maikel Chang from their indoor season in Wichita. In their final action with the B-52s on Monday night, Cordoves scored his 10th goal of the season, while Chang dished out two assists to finish tied for the team lead with 8. He also scored nine goals.
Both Cubans look extremely fit, and could provide some needed scoring punch to a team that hasn’t been adept at finishing chances in training camp. They were in street clothes, and spent the match in stands talking to fans.
The Battery play their next match at 7:15 p.m. Saturday against Seattle Sounders in the second-game of the first night of the 2014 Carolina Challenge Cup.