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Second-half surge pushes Battery past Tampa

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Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C. on Saturday, July 1, 2017. (Zach Bland Photo)

With the heat and humidity playing a major factor, it took almost 70 minutes for the match between two of the best teams in the USL Eastern Conference to get going. Charleston and Tampa split possession in the first half, with neither team creating much in terms of scoring chances.

Maikel Chang broke the game open midway through the second half, threading a through ball to Williams to help him on his way to his 14th goal of the season. Williams collected Chang’s pass, showed great poise goalkeeper Matt Pickens, and rolled the ball into the empty to break the deadlock.

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“Chang’s a special kind of player and one I’m incredibly lucky to play with,” said Williams when describing his goal. “He just knows exactly where to play the ball and puts it on a platter for you. The guy is gifted and he showed his quality tonight.”

The Battery found an extra gear following Williams’ opening goal and doubled the lead 11 minutes later. Chang was the catalyst again as he found fellow Cuban Heviel Cordoves with a through ball inside the penalty area. Cordoves curled a first-time shot around Pickens, scoring his first goal of the year.

The shutout was Charleston’s seventh of the year and goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper’s fifth. The Battery’s veteran back four made up of Quinton Griffith, Taylor Mueller, Forrest Lasso, and O’Brian Woodbine played very well in front of Cooper, limiting Tampa’s chances throughout the entire 90 minutes.

“With heat like this you have to keep your head defensively,” said Mueller following the match. “Forrest and I were focused on keeping our guys organized and limiting Tampa’s chances. It was a great defensive effort from back to front tonight and we got the result because of it.”

The Battery close out their three game homestand next weekend with a first versus second matchup with Louisville City FC. Louisville beat Ottawa, 2-1, Saturday night to stay within striking distance of Charleston at the top of the table.

CHARLESTON: Odisnel Cooper, Quinton Griffith (yellow card, 49), Taylor Mueller, Forrest Lasso, O’Brian Woodbine, Maikel Chang (Nico Rittmeyer, 90), Justin Portillo, Tah Brian Anunga, Dante Marini, Ataulla Guerra (yellow card, 8; Kotaro Higashi, 46), Romario Williams (goal, 70; Heviel Cordoves, 79; goal 81)

Unused substitutes: Joe Kuzminsky, Skylar Thomas, Neveal Hackshaw, Ricky Garbanzo

TAMPA: Matt Pickens, Darnell King, Tamika Mkomdawire, Damion Lowe (yellow card, 55), Luke Boden (yellow card, 62), Keith Savage, Martin Vingaard, Alex Morrell (yellow card, 65; Martin Paterson, 76), Joe Cole, Darwin Jones, Georgi Hristov

Unused substitutes: Akira Fitzgerald, Kyle Porter, Neill Collins, Zac Portillos, Marcel Schafer, Justin ChavezSecond-half surge pushes Battery past Tampa