They came, they saw, and in just seven minutes, the Charleston Battery conquered the Nashville Metros 3-0 on Saturday with Paul Conway's 17th goal of the season leading the charge.
Nashville didn't give up during the fight, however, and coach Brett Mosen believes that may indicate how his side will play their six remaining regular season games as the Metros (10-8-2, 46 points) seek a A-League postseason berth. Nashville dropped from third to fourth in the Central Conference with the loss and the Atlanta Silverbacks' 7-0 demolition of the Cincinnati Riverhawks Saturday night. The top three teams in each of the three A-League conferences will receive an automatic playoff position, with three others picked at-large on the basis of point totals or various tiebreakers.
"Of course we're disappointed with the result against Charleston, but our team didn't give up after getting down. They kept working and fighting to get a score, but unfortunately it didn't come," Mosen said after the loss to the Battery (12-6-1, 55 points) ended Nashville's four-game winning streak. "We played a good team, and made some mistakes that a good team like Charleston won't let you get away with.
"But this has been a good home stand for us. We had won four straight before this game, and we're still very much alive for a spot in the playoffs. That's what we have to focus on now."
The Metros were playing their fifth game in a 14-day period -- four of those fell within eight days on the calendar. They looked weary at times before a season-high home crowd of 2,150 and a national digital audience watching the contest on USLsoccer.com's SATURDAY NIGHT SOCCER broadcast.
Nashville created several scoring chances for themselves, but when they came, Charleston defenders Gilbert Jean-Baptiste and Dan Calichman were usually there to snuff out the opportunities. A few balls clanged off the post as well, with Lady Luck taking a holiday from Ezell Park as far as the Metros were concerned.
"We were tired, but that's still no excuse," said forward Jakob Fenger, who was unable to add to his season total of 13 goals. "Still, we finished this home stand 4-1, and that's something to build on. We lost to a good team tonight. We just need to put this game behind us and get ready for our remaining games."
Conway added to his league-leading total -- and extended his club scoring record with his 60th goal in a Charleston uniform -- in the 44th minute when he took a corner kick from new signee Kevin Anderson and headed it from about 12 yards out between Nashville defender Chris Morman and goalkeeper Cole Burgman and into the net to give the Battery a lead it would never relinquish.
Charleston scored again two minutes after halftime when a careless pass from Metros midfielder Jeff Dominguez was intercepted on the left side by Battery forward John Ball. Ball fired a 20-yard shot past a charging Burgman inside the far post to give the Battery a 2-0 advantage.
Conway thought that second goal clinched the win. "Anytime you score late in the first half, the first ten minutes of the second half are important," the Battery forward said. "That did break their back."
"That was a tough one to take," Mosen acknowledged. "But I don't think our players gave up at that point. They kept playing."
Conway aided his team yet again in the 51st minute when he took a pass at midfield and found fellow forward Mac Cozier. Cozier sped past two Metros defenders and spiked a rocket past Burgman into the left corner for Charleston's third goal of the game.
The Metros were without two starting defenders, Carl Schmitt (suspended one game for yellow card points accumulation) and Danny DeVall (away from the game for personal reasons). Defensive linchpin James Wall said his squad played well enough defensively throughout much of the match, however.
"It really wasn't a 3-0 type game when you look at the stats," said Wall, whose club was even on shots with the Battery (12 each) while managing nine less fouls (24-15) than the visitors. "But you can't make the mistakes we made against a good club like Charleston and expect to walk off the field with a win."
The Battery are currently five points behind the conference-leading Richmond Kickers (13-4-2, 60 points), 3-1 victors over the Indiana Blast on Friday night. "It was a long trip up here and we'd hate to come up and get nothing," said Conway in referring to the nine-hour bus ride he and his side made from South Carolina for the game. "We needed the points. Nashville's been doing really well. That was an important win for us."
The Metros travel to play the Milwaukee Rampage next Saturday in a match that begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT. Four of their six remaining regular season contests are on the road.
"We've got some tests ahead of us, but I think we can do it," midfielder Jaymi Bailey said. "I think we'll put together the wins we need and get into the playoffs."
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Metros at Milwaukee
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.