CHARLESTON, S.C. – Joe Kuzminsky became the first goalkeeper in the USL Championship's history to record a penalty kick save and an assist in the same game as the Charleston Battery took a 2-0 victory against the Charlotte Independence on Friday night at Patriots Point in the first edition of the Southern Derby this season.
The game opened evenly as both sides tried to find a rhythm and it wasn’t until the 12th minute that either side threatened in the attacking third as Nicque Daley got in behind the Independence back line for a moment before shooting low to the near post from the top-right edge of the penalty area for an effort that was saved by Independence goalkeeper Brandon Miller.
The Independence’s first real look came 10 minutes later as Jake Areman lifted a pass from midfield over the Battery back line for Irvin Parra, who flashed a shot across the face of goal from a tight angle. The visitors earned a big chance to go ahead in the 25th minute, however, as Adam Armour drove into the left side of the penalty area and was pulled down by Charleston’s Logan Gdula, earning his side a penalty kick. Sylvain Marveaux stepped up for Charlotte, but his low shot to the right corner was parried wide by Kuzminsky to keep the game scoreless.
Daley created another chance for the hosts six minutes before halftime as he cut past a defender inside the penalty area but sent his shot straight at Miller as the game went to the break scoreless. The young Jamaican struck to put the Battery ahead eight minutes into the second half, however, as he initially won possession in the Charleston half and quickly put his side on the counterattack. A ball forward into space found the run of Zeiko Lewis, and after the Bermuda international moved to the top of the penalty area he squared the ball left as Daley arrived, setting up a low shot that Miller got a piece of but couldn’t keep from the back of the net.
Charlotte had a chance to pull level with 21 minutes to go as second-half substitute Valentin Sabella found space to send an effort on target inside the penalty area that Kuzminsky palmed up before claiming at the second attempt. The Independence’s Kevin Riascos then came up with a key block to deny Daley’s effort from the left side of the penalty as he looked for the Battery’s second.
While the Independence applied pressure throughout the final 15 minutes trying to find an equalizer the Battery defense proved difficult to break down as the visitors as a long-range effort by Blake Pope proved the only serious look on goal they had to offer. Instead, it was Charleston that applied the finishing touch in stoppage time as a long ball forward off a free kick in his own half by Kuzminsky found Joel Bunting breaking in behind the Charlotte defense, and the first-year pro lifted his finish over Miller and into the open net to seal all three points and the Battery’s second consecutive victory.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Joe Kuzminsky, Charleston Battery – Kuzminsky made a key first-half penalty save to keep the game scoreless as part of a shutout performance and then added a late assist on Joel Bunting’s insurance goal.
CHS – Nicque Daley (Zeiko Lewis) 53’
CHS – Joel Bunting (Joe Kuzminsky) 90+3’