USLSoccer.com Staff Report
Friday, March 9, 2016
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Heviel Cordoves scored a pair of first-half goals as the Charleston Battery took a 3-0 win against USL rivals Wilmington Hammerheads FC in a preseason exhibition on Wednesday afternoon at MUSC Health Stadium.
Playing with an experienced starting lineup, the Battery took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes after Ricky Garbanzo was brought down for a penalty kick. Justin Portillo converted from the spot. While Wilmington’s more experimental lineup had chances, the Battery carried more of the play, and Cordoves doubled his side’s lead just past the half-hour mark.
Teaming with fellow Cuban Maikel Chang, Cordoves received a cross from the left, shrugged off his defender and chipped a finish past the onrushing goalkeeper. The duo struck again in first-half stoppage time, as Chang slipped a pass to Cordoves inside the penalty area. While two Wilmington defenders converged, Cordoves found space to fire home a left-footed shot into the right corner.
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“Overall, very good,” Battery Coach Mike Anhaeuser said. “We got good chances, that was the nice thing, and they’re obviously a team that we’re going to be playing. So you’re always happy when you can get those goals, which we’ve been struggling to get a little bit. It’s nice to see.”
Wilmington’s starting lineup included a number of new faces, as Head Coach Mark Briggs’ overhaul of the team’s roster for the new season continues to take shape. While the Hammerheads fared better in the second half, the Battery held firm defensively to record the shutout.
“If I’m brutally honest, the first half was below par,” said Briggs. “But then again, you’ve got four trialists in the starting lineup, so it’s hard to assess where you’re at. But you know, it’s preseason, and that’s what this is for.”
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“Most of the guys you’re seeing [for the Battery], they’ve played together,” said Anhaeuser of the contrast between the Battery and Hammerheads’ current positions. “That might be the difference. Their team, they’re filling in six, seven, eight guys at spots that they’re trying to get used to. So for us, you see Cordoves and Ricky, they played together last year, and in our midfield it’s kinda the same lineup. So that can make a big difference at the beginning of a season.”
A former player for the Hammerheads, Briggs remains confident that the success the club found when he competed on the field can be replicated as new faces continue to get to know each other in Wilmington.
“Obviously I’ve been a part of Wilmington and its history for a number of years now,” Briggs said. “Wilmington has always been known as a team that’s going to fight on the field and have a little bit of quality in the right areas. I think we’re going to put a product on the field this year that’s going to compete but that’s also going to have a bit of experience and a bit of know-how.”