By MIKE ANTHONY
A Saturday afternoon full of harsh weather turned into a beautiful evening that was made for soccer.
South Georgia Tormenta nearly manufactured a perfect end to the day, but was still able to walk away with its head held high following a 1-1 draw against the Myrtle Beach Mutiny to begin the 2017 Premier Development League season.
Charlie Dennis struck again for Tormenta after notching the squad’s lone goal in a similar 1-1 draw during an exhibition earlier in the week. Dennis’ header in the 73rd minute drew Tormenta even after it had trailed for nearly an hour of game time.
Tormenta struck the crossbar on a late attempt to pull ahead while - at the other end of the field - keeper Keegan Meyer made a pair of clutch saves to keep the game level.
“There were some nerves,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said. “As good as it is to play at home, this is still a team that is coming together and getting used to each other. This is also a unique environment. With such a good crowd and great support, other teams are always going to be up for a game here.”
Saturday’s game was a near mirror opposite of Tormenta’s midweek tilt against the Charleston Battery.
In that matchup, Tormenta got the best of a few early offensive pushes from both sides and held out against a strong push by its opponent before a late goal tied things up. Playing against Myrtle Beach, Tormenta was on its heels early and a miscue in the midfield led to a wide open shot at the top of the box for Richard Aksel Juul, who found the back of the net for a 1-0 Mutiny lead.
South Georgia shored up its defense and got into halftime before the tide started to turn.
“You know, in the PDL, sometimes scouting reports are hard to come by,” Miglarese said. “You hear things about teams, but you don’t know exactly what to expect. We got a different look from Myrtle Beach than we thought. They’re a good team and they made us pay.
“Once we were able to implement some changes, we were able to get going.”
‘Get going’ was a bit of an understatement as Tormenta’s possession numbers skyrocketed in the second half.
The Mutiny was able to fall back and hold the lead for a while, but Dennis’ height and big body won out late in the game as he lifted off to beat the Myrtle Beach defense to a corner kick, lodging it into the left side of the net to knot up the score.
The contest was featured online as the PDL’s ‘Game of the Week’ and the Mutiny’s Twitter feed listed 1,251 fans in attendance.
Sunnier days ahead should lead to even bigger home crowds for Tormenta, which knows that there are better home results to be had than a draw.
“We set out to win every game, especially every home game,” Miglarese said. “We didn’t quite do that tonight. But we’ll rest and recover tomorrow, and then we have another home game to look forward to coming up.”
Tormenta’s next match is slated for Thursday as in-state rival Peachtree City MOBA comes to town. Peachtree City started its 2017 season on a much rockier note, dropping a 6-1 decision to Nashville SC Saturday night.