CHARLESTON — South Georgia Tormenta FC went toe-to-toe with professional USL side Charleston Battery on Wednesday night in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup. Tormenta held its own, but an early goal by the Battery held up as Charleston moved on in the tournament with a 1-0 victory.
Tormenta pressed the issue early on, earning the majority of the possession and pushing upfield to created chances down the wings.
But a big and experienced Charleston back line proved up to the task. The Battery defense was able to keep the Tormenta attack on the perimeter and never allowed a Tormenta player to square up a shot in front of the net.
Charleston's offense had only a few offensive bursts in the opening minutes, but was able to make the most of it.
In the 21st minute Victor Mansaray placed a cross perfectly into the Tormenta box and Patrick Okonkwo redirected with his head past Tormenta keeper Pablo Jara for the 1-0 advantage that held up for the rest of the night.
In a chippy and physical game, Tormenta's best chance to find a goal may have been its first.
In the fifth minute, Jad Arslan slipped a defender and charged on net through the right side of the Battery box. Arslan was both pulled and tripped by a Charleston defender, but the ball was played on, taking away a possible penalty opportunity.
Rough play showed up again in the second half and again gave Tormenta hope. Savannah native and former Tormenta player Nico Rittmeyer was tagged with two yellow cards in the first 18 minutes of the second half, putting the Battery a man down as Tormenta tried to mount a rally.
Tormenta continued to get the better of the possession, but that was by design.
Charleston had begun to play conservatively after taking its lead and — after going down a man — threw all of its numbers back to focus on defense.
Tormenta continued to press down the left and right flanks, but solid and tightly played defense never allowed clean crosses into the center of the Charleston box. When counter-attacking or pressing up the middle, Tormenta continually attempted long through balls and forward passes, only to run into great instinctive play by the Battery midfield and back line.
The final blow for Tormenta came in the 83rd minute when Nil Vinyals was handed his second yellow card, evening up the sides and hindering the comeback attempt.
Tormenta will return to town for a few days of training before finally getting to play on its home turf. The Blue and Magenta hosts its first home PDL contest Saturday as the Tri-Cities Otters are in town for an 8 p.m. kickoff.