Saturday, July 12, 2008
CHARLESTON, SC — The resurgent Puerto Rico Islanders won their third-straight road game at the expense of the host Charleston Battery, beating the league leaders 3-1 in front of 4,632 fans at Blackbaud Stadium Saturday night.
Charleston had taken the lead through Lazo Alavanja’s strike, but the Islanders fought back to bag three second-half goals courtesy of Kendall Jagdeosingh, Cristian Arrieta and Jonathan Steele. The Battery remains top of the USL First Division despite the loss.
“We’ve just got to regroup,” Battery head coach Mike Anhaeuser said. “We’ve obviously had a lot of games, which have probably taken some energy out of us of late. Puerto Rico were pressing us as much as they could and didn’t quit the whole game.”
The fixture was the first clash this season between two of the USL’s hottest teams. Coming into the match, the Islanders (6-5-3, 24 points, second place) had won four of their last five games, including two road games en-route to Charleston—form that’s seen them climb from the basement and into the top three.
The Battery (8-4-3, 27 points), who had already ousted two MLS sides in the US Open Cup earlier this month, had before tonight lost just once since the beginning of May.
From the get-go it was evident both teams were seeking a big win, and the first half produced some open, attacking soccer.
The Battery had to absorb some early pressure—especially from Islander forward Noel Fabrice, who pestered the Battery defense constantly throughout the first half.
In the 11th minute Noel broke free on the edge of the box and fired a low, driving shot to Battery ‘keeper Dusty Huduck’s right, which the Charleston stopper did well to force round the post for a corner.
But the hosts quickly settled to produce the best non-scoring chance of the half when forward Lazo Alavanja put through Randi Patterson. The Battery’s leading goal scorer had rounded the ‘keeper before rolling a slow-moving shot toward goal, but remarkably the Islanders managed to clear the attempt off the line.
But the deadlock was finally broken in the 24th minute when Darren Spicer brought the ball down the right flank and fired a cross to Alavanja, who turned and poked home home his third goal in three-straight Battery games.
Early in the second half Alavana threatened again when he produced a surprising over-the-shoulder volley that went inches over the bar. The visitors quickly responded with a chance of their own, but the Battery cleared the danger
Puerto Rico came close to leveling in the 68th minute when Noah Delgado shot wide from edge of six-yard box, but it was substitute Jagdeosingh who turned the game around.
In the 70th minute, from a free-kick situation, Delgado broke down the left before driving a low cross to Jagdeosingh, who found space to finish from close range.
Then just nine minutes later the Islanders got ahead after the referee controversially judged that Battery defender Marco Reda had pulled down Islanders’ forward Noel in the penalty area. Arrieta stepped up and sent his PK home.
The Islanders then finished the game off three minutes from time when Noel pulled in the front of the Battery defense and fed Johnathon Steele, who curled in a first-time driven effort to Hudock’s left and into the net.