Photo courtesy Ben Clemens / Charleston Battery
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery fell 1-0 to Inter Miami CF on day two of the Breeze Airways™ Carolina Challenge Cup on Tuesday night as a late goal by Ariel Lassiter broke the deadlock and gave the visitors their first win of the tournament. The result moved Miami ahead of the Battery in the tournament standings ahead of this weekend’s final game, which will see the Battery close the tournament against the Columbus Crew on Friday before IMCF faces Charlotte FC on Saturday.
The Black and Yellow picked up where they left off from their opener in applying early pressure against Miami. In the opening minute, Matteo Ritaccio played a dangerous through-ball for Augustine Williams into the penalty area, only for the defense to break up the opportunity. Miami made an advance of its own in the 10th minute to test Charleston goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky with a shot, who ultimately made an easy save. Leland Archer made a strong impression on the Miami offense when he stopped Ariel Lassiter in his tracks after a dangerous run 10 minutes later.
The best look of the first half for the Battery came on the half-hour mark when Ritaccio delivered a well-placed ball over the top to Romario Piggott. The Panamanian went for goal on the volley but his attempt went just over the crossbar. Battery Head Coach Conor Casey made a squad swap minutes later for a side composed entirely of trialists. A duo of trialists nearly found the goal towards the end of the half with a cross into the box, however the header attempt was also too tall for the net as the game remained scoreless at the break.
The Battery continued to press as the second half began and were rewarded with opportunities. A Trialist nearly found the back of the net with a strong shot that went just narrowly wide right of the post. Casey once again called to his bench around the hour-mark for a swap that brought Pat Hogan, Benji Ettienne, Geobel Perez and EJ Johnson into the action.
Johnson almost converted on an acrobatic attempt on goal following a solid cross from a trialist, as the Battery continued to press into the Miami box. Hogan also nearly scored in the 73rd minute off a corner kick, but his attempt rattled off the right post, and four minutes later Miami found the breakthrough as Harvey Neville found Lassiter in the middle of the penalty area for a curling shot that beat the trialist goalkeeper, who had just moments earlier made a strong save. Johnson continued to provide options for the Battery through the right side, however Miami saw out the match to secure the victory.
Despite the result, Casey commended his squad for their efforts throughout the evening.
“It was super positive, the energy was great, I asked them to be relentless in their pressure and they did that all night long,” he said. “We’re still learning from each other and a different way of doing things. All in all, we had a lot of great chances, but we were unable at the moment to put them away. Sometimes that comes back to bite you a little, but I’m very happy overall.”
Casey additionally thought the team made a step in the right direction in forming their identity in just their second match of the preseason.
“It’s a learning process, it’s our second game and we haven’t had a lot of training sessions,” said Coach Casey. “So, I think the players are taking on the information well and they’re applying it, so I think it’s good progress.”