The Eagles claimed their first postseason victory against their long-time rival the Kickers as Chris Ramirez scored his second goal of the postseason and Nate Thornton notched the winner. Charlotte had to rally from an early deficit at City Stadium to hand Richmond its first home defeat of the season, however, as the Kickers opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Brian Ownby’s corner kick was headed home by Mike Callahan.
Charlotte got back on even terms just past the half-hour mark as a good cross from the left by Ben Newnam found Ramirez, who skied over his defender to head home from eight yards. The Eagles then took the lead seven minutes before the halftime break as a pass from Stephen Okai found Thornton in the left side of the penalty area, and his low shot eluded Kickers goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra at his near post.
Richmond, which only suffered one loss during the regular season, pushed forward strongly in the second half to try and keep its season alive, and Eric Reed had to make an outstanding save to deny Michael Seaton a late equalizer, but the Eagles took victory to advance to their first USL Championship Game since 2009.
In the first semifinal on Friday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando once again got out to a quick start as it took victory against the No. 3-seed Battery, with Adama Mbengue scoring a goal and adding an assist on a finish by Long Tan as the Lions took a 2-0 lead in the sixth minute. Dennis Chin added a third for the Lions, but the Battery pulled a goal back before halftime through Mike Azira.
Charleston pulled another goal back in the second half as Amadou Sanyang headed home, but the Battery’s comeback came up short as both teams finished the game with 10 men with Orlando’s Tan and Charleston’s Colin Falvey both sent off with 15 minutes to go.