Facing the 2017 national champion Charlotte Eagles, South Georgia Tormenta FC faced its first home deficit of the season when it headed into halftime down 1-0 at Erk Russell Park on Saturday night. But Tormenta erupted for four goals over the final 45 minutes of play, topping Charlotte by a count of 4-2 to remain unbeaten in Premier Development League play and clinch a perfect 7-0-0 home mark in the regular season.
“Lately, we’ve been getting the early goal and playing with the lead,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said. “That’s not how things went tonight. We were playing a very good and tough opponent and they were the ones who got that first goal.
“But we didn’t stop fighting. And when we got it to 1-1, we knew we were in a good spot to win. We weren’t looking to stop there. On our home field, losing or tying is not an option. We’re playing for the win every time.”
Before playing for the win, Tormenta first had to play some catch-up.
Tormenta dominated the possession and had the better of the chances near goal in the first half, but it was Charlotte’s Rafael Vacas that chased down a chipped-in pass and beat Tormenta keeper Pablo Jara with a blistering shot from a tough angle on the right side in the 38th minute.
South Georgia bounced back in the 59th minute, levelling the score when Callum Chapman-Page came all the way up from his spot on the back line and finished when a cross from Marco Micaletto was allowed to bounce directly in front of the net.
Tormenta didn’t let up a bit and continued to hog the ball and press upfield. Several scoring chances were turned away in the 67th minute, but midfielder Nil VInyals collected the ball just outside of the Charlotte box and carved a perfect shot into the topright corner of the net to give Tormenta the lead.
“Nil came on and immediately made a difference,” Miglarese said. “Really, all of our subs came in and did what they had to do. In games like this, everyone has to do their job to get the win.”
With momentum thoroughly on Tormenta’s side, that home team continued to take its shots at the defending national champs. A turnover near midfield in the 77th minute led to a wide open run at the Charlotte goal and — following some quick passing — Micaletto put a hard, left-footed shot into the net for a 3-1 advantage.
But showing the kind of determination that has made them a perennial power, Charlotte kept fighting and turned a careless turnover deep in Tormenta territory into an easy scoring strike to make it 3-2 with just over 10 minutes to play.
More high pressing by the Eagles awarded them with another turnover and another free run on the net in the 85th minutes, but Jara — sensing the impending danger — was quick to get off of his line andturned away the Eagles’ final good scoring opportunity.
“Pablo is one of the best goalkeepers I’ve ever coached,” Miglarese said. “That was an incredible save when we had to have it. That’s what he’s here for.”
With the defense breathing a sigh of relief, the Tormenta offense put things away for good just after stoppage time began. Mikie Rowe netted his third goal of the season and the celebration could finally begin in earnest as Charlotte was put away for good.
Adding to the party was news that Mississippi Brilla FC had dropped its match against SC United Bantams. Following Saturday’s matches throughout the Deep South Division, Tormenta is now seven points clear of Mississippi for first place with four matches to go, including a showdown in Mississippi next Saturday.