Playing for the second time in 24 hours, the Riverhounds' late-season surge came to a sudden halt with a 4-0 loss to the Charleston Battery, which became the fifth team to clinch a USL Pro playoff berth.
Dane Kelly scored a hat trick for the Battery (10-9-8), and Zach Prince added the final goal. Yet for all the scoring, the play of the match came from Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper.
Trailing 1-0, the Riverhounds (9-13-5) were awarded a penalty kick in the final minute of the first half when Quinton Griffith pulled down Miro Cabrilo inside the box.
Jose Angulo took the kick, which was saved by Cooper before Angulo put the rebound into the net. The goal was waved off as Cooper was called for encroaching on the initial kick, which resulted in a caution to Cooper but forced a re-kick by the Riverhounds.
Cooper came up with the save for a second time on Angulo's penalty kick, and the Battery cleared the ball out of play to keep the score at 1-0.
The missed opportunity to tie the game before halftime was costly. Kelly completed his hat trick with two goals in the first nine minutes of the second half, and in the process, nearly ended the Riverhounds' playoff hopes.
The Riverhounds trail seventh-place Harrisburg and eighth-place Wilmington by two points in the standings. To reach the postseason, the Riverhounds must win their final game at home against Arizona at 7 p.m. Saturday and hope either Harrisburg or Wilmington fail to earn a point in their remaining games.
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