Tormenta FC’s first season as a professional club came to an end Saturday in the same way that it started things back in April - a home victory against Greenville Triumph.
Tormenta looked stellar in the 3-1 win, but it was a bittersweet night as the club had been eliminated from USL League One playoff contention a week before.
It was a season that couldn’t have started off any better. Tormenta had just broken ground on its new stadium and was awarded the home game and national exposure of the first ever match in the newly-created League One. That first win gave way to plenty of others, with Tormenta looking like a dominant force in the league and even occupying the top spot in the standings for a couple of weeks a third of the way through the season.
But then the adversity hit. And it hit hard.
The injury bug bit early and often, with Tormenta losing a few of its top defenders just a handful of games into the season. A shift in roster composition and formation alignments kept things moving, but the bad luck shifted from the back line to the midfield as more players were lost.
The team showed plenty of grit and determination. Even as the losses started to pile up and the middle of the standings became their new home, Tormenta was a tough out for every opponent - especially when teams had to make the journey to Statesboro.
The season’s most notable moment — unfortunately — was likely the Aug. 17 matchup against FC Tucson in which midfielder Lucas Coutinho was lost for the season with a severe head injury. The good news is that Coutinho is on the mend and expected to fully recover, but the emotional toll of such a scary injury, combined with the physical toll of losing yet another crucial piece of the starting 11 proved to be too much. The table-topping days of early summer had already melted into a tenuous grasp on one of the four playoff spots, and Tormenta didn’t put another tally in the win column until last weekend’s finale.
It isn’t the October Tormenta was hoping for, but there is every reason to believe that 2020 will hold brighter days.
The one thing Tormenta has never lacked is ambition. From the day the club was founded, the front office has talked about winning championships. Head coach John Miglarese shares that demand for success and was encouraged by the way his team finished out the season even when the numbers weren’t in their favor.
Tormenta won’t be taking part in the postseason as it had hoped, yet there is every reason to be excited about their next go-round. Plenty of key players will be back — and healthier — next season. Next summer should also be a bit more routine for the squad as many were participating in their first professional season in 2019.
Add in the continued support of a fan base that makes Statesboro one of the toughest places in the league to visit and the added excitement that will surround the new stadium and it’s very easy to see how the 2019 Tormenta season was just the calm before the storm.