OTTAWA – The Charleston Battery held on late and kept their cool from the spot as the No. 9 seed advanced to the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals with a 5-4 victory in a penalty shootout against No. 8 seed Ottawa Fury FC after the sides had played to a 1-1 draw through regulation and extra time on Wednesday night at TD Place.
Jarad van Schaik scored the decisive goal for the Battery, who will now face No. 2 seed Nashville SC on Saturday night at First Tennessee Park at 8 p.m. ET.
The sides matched each other shot for shot in the opening three rounds of the shootout, but the Battery gained an edge to lead off the fourth round when Ottawa’s Mour Samb rang his shot off the crossbar as he aimed for the top-left corner. Charleston’s Ian Svantesson then put his side ahead with a powerful shot to the left corner that eluded the dive of Fury FC goalkeeper Callum Irving, and while Ottawa’s Thiago kept his side alive with a finish to the left corner in the fifth round, van Schaik made it 5 for 5 for the visitors with a shot to the bottom-right corner to send the Battery on.
Looking for their first postseason victory since 2016l, the Battery had held the upper hand in the opening stages as their compact midfield made it difficult for Ottawa to make inroads and allowed the, to spring forward to create some attacking half-chances. Charleston was unable to take advantage, however, until a gamble by Kotari Higashi in the 27th minute paid off handsomely.
The Japanese midfielder won possession in midfield and tried to find Bosua, but as possession was lost, he drifted into space on the left and was quickly found by A.J. Paterson and broke in on goal. Irving got a hand to his finish but was unable to keep it from putting the Battery ahead.
The goal seemed to spur Ottawa into life, with their only real threat prior to going behind a volley by Samb from the top of the penalty area off a long free kick by Carl Haworth that Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky gathered comfortably. Fury FC started to move more quickly on the ball, and five minutes before halftime Onua Obasi cut in from the left side and sent a pass to Samb, whose first-time finish from 10 yards found the bottom-right corner.
Fury FC went close again just before halftime when Hadji Barry ran onto a long ball over the top by Chris Mannella but sent his finish wide of the left post under pressure from Battery defender Taylor Mueller. Charleston then had an early chance in the second half, but Nicque Daley mishit his finish allowing Irving to save easily.
The Charleston Battery stifled Ottawa Fury FC to keep the hosts to four shots on goal out of 17 overall before advancing in a penalty shootout on Wednesday night. | Photo courtesy Steve Kingsman / Freestyle Photography / Ottawa Fury FC
Ottawa continued to look bright, however, and had a big chance to take the lead on the hour-mark as a counterattack saw Samb make a perfect roulette pass to Christiano Francois in space on the right side of the penalty area only for the Haitian international to mis-control and allow Kusminsky to close down and gather. Two minutes later, Fury FC went close as Wal Fall clipped the top of the crossbar with a curling shot from 25 yards toward the top-right corner.
Chances arrived less frequently but the Battery went close with 13 minutes to go as a looping cross by Paterson from the left was just kept out of his net by Irving. Charleston’s defense then scrambled to keep Ottawa from finding a late winner in the 86th minute with Fall’s finish from the top of the penalty area ending up being saved by Kuzminsky as the Battery defense made a crucial interception seconds early close in.
The Battery had the only serious chance in the first period of extra time as Dante Marini got in behind the defense on a chipped through-ball by Romario Piggott into the right side of the penalty area, but the midfielder pulled his finish wide of the left post. Charleston also had a chance in the 116th minute as Zeiko Lewis broke down the left side and centered for Bosua, but his finish was smothered by Irving on a low cross delivered to the near post.
Ottawa then put their visitors under the cosh with a late surge and had two chances in stoppage time to grab victory. The first fell to Kevin Oliveira, who was unable to keep his half-volleyed finish from 25 yards on frame as it flew just over the crossbar. Then with the final gasp, Samb seized on a loose ball in the penalty area after a free kick by Haworth, but his low shot was parried by Kuzminsky and scrambled to safety to send the game to a shootout, where the Battery held their nerve to take victory.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Jarad van Schaik, Charleston Battery – Van Schaik kept his nerve from the spot to clinch victory for his side, and was also solid defensively recording 10 clearances, winning 6 of 8 duels and 4 of 5 aerials.