Players from the Charleston Battery and the Greenville Triumph battle for the ball in their Second Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Greenville Triumph
It’s a sports tale as old as time.
What you can have in the first half, can be lost in the second.
The Greenville Triumph seemed to dominate the first half, but the Charleston Battery found its rhythm in the second, scoring twice to lead the Battery to a 2-1 road win in Round 2 of the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Coming off an injury, Ian Svantesson scored a pair of goals 11 minutes apart to lead the Battery comeback.
“It was either that or play another 30 minutes of overtime,” Svantesson said. “There were really just two options.”
For Greenville, the loss ended its inaugural Open Cup run. Head coach Jon Harkes said it was still a special day for the club as it was the first time Greenville squared off with a potential in-state rival like Charleston.
“Quite frankly, some of our guys died in the second half and we were chasing the game,” Harkes said. “It all comes down to decision-making. These are great experiences for the development of the players.”
This marked just the second time in the Modern Era (1995-present) that a pair of South Carolina clubs have met in the US Open Cup. The last time it happened was a very similar situation as the Charleston Battery traveled to Greenville to take on a Division 3 pro team. That day at Sirrine Stadium, the Battery, led by a goal and an assist by Raul Diaz Arce, defeated the Greenville Lions (D-3 Pro League), 3-0.
Charleston came into Wednesday’s match with two starters out with injury — defender Leland Archer and midfielder Nico Rittmeyer.
It somewhat showed as it took until the second half for the Battery to find its feet.
Before that, the Triumph seemed to have solid control of the match.
Greenville struck first after 30 minutes of back-and-forth. The Triumph earned the first corner of the match, and Aaron Walker stepped up and played it into the head of Max Hemmings who put the ball past the outstretched Philip Breno — who made his first start of the season for the Battery.
It was Hemmings’ first goal of the season for the Triumph.
In the 40th minute, Charleston nearly equalized after Zeiko Lewis got free and pushed a pass to Tah Brian Anunga. Anunga drilled a low pass near goal to Kotaro Higashi, but Higashi couldn’t put a solid foot on the ball, and it sailed across the goal face and out of play.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Charleston had another golden opportunity to level the match when Nicque Daily tried to find Higashi streaking up the middle, but the ball was played wide and out of play.
Greenville started to mount pressure in the second half.
In the 48th minute, Jake Keegan nearly doubled the Triumph’s lead with a glancing header that went just left of goal.
Greenville Triumph head coach John Harkes gives a thumbs up before his club’s Second Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup against the Charleston Battery. Photo: Greenville Triumph
A minute later, Greenville had another opportunity, but the ball pinballed between four Greenville attackers and three Charleston defenders before finally going out of bounds.
The pressure continued for Charleston’s defense in the 50th minute when Evan Lee attempted another header, but like Keegan, his sailed wide.
Charleston had its first shot at goal in the second half when AJ Patterson nearly headed home an equalizer off a corner kick from Lewis, but his attempt was off the mark.
That is when Charleston took over the match.
In the 65th minute, Authur Bosua had Charleston’s second attempt at an equalizer when his right-footed shot went to the left and out of play.
In the 71st minute, Greenville finally went back on the attack when substitute Edmundo Robinson took a throw-in just inside the penalty area. With a wide open look at the goal, Robinson sailed his shot over the crossbar and out of play.
The Battery had a series in the 73rd minute, but two corners and three attempts yielded nothing. However, two minutes later, Romario Piggott drilled a shot that stung the gloves of Greenville goalkeeper Dallas Jaye. It marked the first solid attempt of the match for Charleston.
“I thought we started the second half extremely slow,” Harkes said. “Again, you can’t drop the ball like that.”
The Battery finally got the equalizer it looked for in the 79th minute when Svantesson took advantage of a ball bounce-around in front of the Greenville goal and put home the tying goal for Charleston.
Patterson took another hard shot toward Jaye, but the goalkeeper was able to save the attempt in the 86th minute.
In the 90th minute, Cole Seiler nearly put the game away for Greenville, but his left-footed attempt was off the mark and out of play.
But, in the 90+1 minute, Svantesson seemed to put the game away when he drilled a shot past Jaye and into the back of the net to complete the comeback.
“I got a ball that was bouncing, and you just have to put it past the defenders. I saw the keeper was a little far off, so shoot hard and hope for the best,” Svantesson said.
Charleston ended the match with 12 shots in the second half, compared to just two in the first.
Charleston will travel to Nashville for Round 3 on May 29.