South Georgia Tormenta FC won a pair of games on the road last week and returned to Eagle Field Thursday night looking to snap an 0-3 start on its home turf.
Snake-bitten often in its first home matches, Tormenta couldn’t break through again for much of the game, only to strike in the 86th minute for a 1-0 win over Southern West Virginia King’s for the squad’s third consecutive victory.
Tormenta missed a golden opportunity over an hour into the match when Jad Arslan couldn’t connect on a penalty kick. But South Georgia continued to press the issue and — in the 86th minute — Trenton Whitely launched a cross from the right side that Jeremy Rector found in midair, easily flicking it into the top left corner of the goal for the game’s only strike.
“We had the momentum and wanted to make sure we finished it off,” Rector said. “We got possession and recycled the ball and I found some space to run into. Trent’s cross was perfect and I pretty much knew it was in when I hit it.”
“That was a world-class goal,” Tormenta coach Ben Freakley said. “We did everything right. We moved the ball well, got a great cross, and how great was it for Jeremy, a Georgia Southern player, to get that goal?”
The win not only secured three points for Tormenta in its third straight game — it was also the squad’s third consecutive shutout and its fourth in seven matches.
King’s Warriors played Tormenta tough in the first half, mixing some solid possessions with a handful of dangerous counterattacks. Alex Guerra stood in goal for Tormenta in his first start of the season and was up to the task, stopping a pair of point-blank scoring opportunities in the first half of action.
As the game wore on, Tormenta’s defense tightened and Southern West Virginia’s offensive threats became few and far between.
“We weren’t pressing high enough early on,” Freakley said. “We were content to let them possess the ball in their half and bring it up the field. I saw us do a better job of pressuring them (in the second half) and that led to more opportunities for us.”
Tormenta has had no trouble in getting fans out to Eagle Field and Thursday was no exception as another solid turnout finally got to celebrate a victory. The celebration actually started a few minutes early as Tormenta reserve players — not in uniform and sitting amongst fans behind King's Warriors' net — flooded onto the field to celebrate with Rector and company after the decisive strike.
In just a week, Tormenta has gone from an expansion team wallowing in the cellar of the South Atlantic Division right into the middle of the standings. Even more daunting for future opponents, Tormenta has played the fewest games of anyone in the division, allowing for them to accumulate more points as other teams stay on the sidelines during bye dates.
Add in the opportunistic offense and a defense that hasn't conceded a goal in over 280 minutes of action and the Premier Development League's newest franchises is starting to look like a big threat.
With all of the momuntum now squarely in its corner, Tormenta will try to bounce back on short rest. On Saturday night, South Georgia will welcom the West Virginia Chaos for a 7:30 kickoff. Following that game, Tormenta will return the long road trip, travelling to West Virginia for rematches against both sides.