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Tormenta comes up short in home opener
Tormenta logo
Tormenta logo

An inability to finish in the attacking third, injuries and a questionable second yellow card led to a disappointing night for South Georgia Tormenta FC as they opened the home portion of their 2023 campaign with a 3-1 loss to Charlotte Independence Saturday night.

Charlotte (1-0-1) jumped out early, scoring in the sixth minute when Tormenta turned the ball over deep in their own half. Dane Kelly was able to find Brad Dunwell at the top of the circle who blasted a shot to the lower left-side corner past a diving Pablo Jara to give Charlotte a 1-0 lead.

Shortly after that, defensive stalwart Jake Dengler suffered an apparent leg injury resulting in one of Tormenta’s starting center backs to be substituted off in the 13th minute.

Tormenta (1-1-0) would stay trailing for most of the half until two minutes into stoppage time when Mukwelle Akale scored on a free kick from 25 yards out, lifting the ball over the wall before it dropped down into the net as the Charlotte goalkeeper was frozen in place for his second goal of the season.

“I take a lot of free kicks in training so I’m prepared when the moment comes,” Akale said of his goal. “I just try to put it over the wall and dip it under the bar so the keeper has no chance to get it and that’s what happened,” he said.

Seven minutes in to the second half, Tormenta’s fortunes changed as their other starting central defender Preston Kilwein picked up his second yellow card of the match. The first came midway through the first half on a sliding tackle. His second came for a delay of game as he kicked the ball away after it went out of bounds. 

Kilwien appeared shocked that he was given a second yellow card and despite pleading his case, was sent off. 

“Once we went a man down, which everyone knows was incredibly unfair but these things happen, once we were a man down we were still creating chances, still getting on the ball, still making it extremely hard for Charlotte,” said manager Ian Cameron. “That’s the thing that make su really hopeful that this group has the DNA to go and mount a charge for the championship.”

Charlotte added a goal eight minutes after Kilwein was sent off following a corner kick that wasn’t cleared, falling to the feet of Shalom Dutey who knocked it in to put the Independance up 2-1.

Khori Bennett added an insurance goal for Charlotte in the 83rd minute when he scored on a header following a cross from Joel Johnson to wrap up the scoring for the night.

Despite the loss, Cameron and Akale saw a lot from his team that they liked.

“In an ironic way, that was probably the best we played this season until the (red) card changed the complexion of the game,” he said. “That’s an extremely talented Charlotte team that everybody in the league is scared to play against because of their attacking threat.”

Akale also saw a lot of positives to take away.

“We played exactly how we wanted to play,” he said. “We controlled the game and held possession of the ball. We created chances and at the end of the day sometimes things don’t go your way.”

Cameron said he’d like to see his team improve in the attacking third of the field going forward and creating more goal scoring opportunities as well as an ability for the team to have closed out the game and maybe get a draw.

South Georgia was playing without star striker Kazaiah Sterling for the second straight game who was out with an undisclosed injury. 

“He’s about a week away from entering training again,” Cameron said. “He’s got a little thing going on that needs a few weeks of to make sure it heals. I think within three weeks we’ll see him back in the field.” 

“We should have licked our wounds and said ‘ok, it’s 1-1 and we feel disappointed and we should have won the game,’ but it got away from us and we should have had the resiliency to get a result from tonight despite being a man down,” he said. “So that part we need to address and have some honest conversations about and move forward.”

Akale said he feels good about how the team has come together this season so far and has high expectations for the remainder of the season.

“I feel like we’ve connected and our chemistry is up as a team. We have a lot of new guys on the team so it’s going to take some time to gel, but I feel like we showed what we’re capable of and we’re just going to keep doing that throughout the season and hopefully finish on top.”

Tormenta has a busy stretch coming up beginning on Saturday, April 1, when they host Northern Colorado at home. They’ll be in action again on Wednesday, April 5 for the second round of the US Open Cup when they host USL Championship squad Rio Grande Valley Toros and then another home match against Greenville on Saturday, April 8.

“Because of the way they played (tonight), we just can’t wait to get back on the field,” Cameron said. “That’s where we leave ourselves. The boys gave everything and we’re just going to be counting down the days until we get a chance to go and play somebody else and compete. That’s the exciting part of this group.”