South Georgia Tormenta FC can be described in many ways.
‘Dramatic’ might be the most fitting of all adjectives.
For the second time in as many games, Tormenta was locked in a 0-0 tie more than 80 minutes into a contest. And for the second time in as many games, it was Sam Lofts breaking the deadlock and spurring his team on to a victory.
Lofts found open space in front of the Tri-Cities Otter net in the 87th minute and slammed home a cross by Nick Wells to clinch Tormenta’s second consecutive victory.
“It was a battle,” Lofts said. “We had some chances that we didn’t capitalize on. We were pressing a little, but Nick put in a beautiful ball that got to me. It made my part easy with a solid scoring chance.”
For Tormenta (3-2-4), another late victory clinched more than just a win - it also kept faint hopes of a playoff berth alive.
South Georgia has played solid soccer throughout the season, but draws are worth just one point in the standings while wins are worth three. Missed scoring opportunities and some blown leads have resulted in Tormenta giving away points via draws.
Tormenta looks to be hitting its stride as the final third of the season approaches and there are many winnable games remaining, but a hefty point deficit compared to the top of the standings and a handful of teams between them and playoff eligibility makes matters tough.
“Quite frankly, we couldn’t afford a tie tonight,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said. “We have left too many points out there due to draws at home already.
“I felt like we played great soccer in the first half, but we didn’t finish. About 8-10 minutes into the second half (Tri-Cities) turned the tables and had us on our heels. But we had to be aggressive and play like we were trailing. That may have opened us up to attacks, but it also helped us create opportunities.”
Part of that aggressive approach was Miglarese subbing Lofts into the game in the late minutes.
With summer heat and humidity quickly wearing players down and with plenty of games coming up without much rest in between, Miglarese had to weigh playing for a win against keeping one of his biggest scoring threats well-rested.
In the end, everything worked out well and Tormenta took another critical step up in the standings.
“There are tough choices you have to make,” Miglarese said. “Obviously, Sam did what we wanted him to do, but you also have to give a lot of credit to Nick Wells. He was in his 87th minute like a lot of other guys on the field, but he was still able to use his pace to get behind the defense. Then he kept his head up and put in a great ball to lead to our goal.”
Miglarese was also quick to deal out credit to backliners Leland Archer and Joshua Phelps, as well as goalkeeper Matt Rosenberg, who notched his second consecutive clean sheet.
Tormenta controlled possession for most of the game and had the majority of the scoring chances, but the Tormenta defense cleanly dealt with half a dozen Tri-Cities corner kicks while improvising and finding a way to defuse a handful of dangerous runs the Otters were able to make off of counter attacks.
South Georgia now has a full head of steam, but will have to do some tough work on the road if it wants to keep fighting towards the postseason.
Tormenta travels to SC United on Tuesday before heading to Tennessee for a rematch against Tri-Cities on Friday.