Tormenta FC had a stellar first season of competition in the Premier Development League, but the team came up just shy of the postseason.
South Georgia needed a win in Friday’s regular season finale at the SC United Bantams, but a 2-2 draw left Tormenta two points shy of advancing to next week’s division playoff round.
“This is the first time all season where the emotion is really hitting,” Tormenta coach Ben Freakley said. “We played hard all season and we really made some strides.”
South Georgia (6-5-3) won six of its final nine games and accumulated 21 points on the season. If not for a sluggish start that saw them go scoreless in their first four contests, Tormenta could easily still be in the mix.
“It’s easy to see where just one more win or draw would have made all the difference,” Freakley said. “That’s a takeaway for the future. We played great at the end of the season. It just has to be there at the beginning.”
For over half an hour of play, South Georgia had the playoffs in its sight. Forward Nico Rittmeyer set the tone with a goal in the 16th minute and Tormenta carried its 1-0 advantage into halftime.
Tormenta continued to control the action until the 61st minute when Leandro Browne was taken down in the box to earn the Bantams a penalty kick. Joe Vyner lined up for SC United and solidly struck the penalty past Tormenta goalkeeper Anton Widen.
South Georgia’s season was pushed to the brink when Browne finished off a goal of his own in the 81st minute. James Brighton – Tormenta’s youngest player at just 16 – drew his side even with a strike in the 93rd minute, earning the team a point but ultimately falling short of the goal at hand.
“It’s not the end we wanted, but we had a lot of great moments,” Freakley said. “Every player on this roster made a statement and an impact.”
Freakley went on to credit his team for becoming a contributing part of the Statesboro community during their summer in town. He also recognized the “incredible” outpouring of support from Tormenta’s fans, from showing up to preseason events, to being one of the loudest and best-represented home crowds in the league.
“The coolest part of this whole thing has been the people,” Freakley said. “When all of this started a year ago, I had no idea what to expect. It’s been amazing to see how hard our fans, our players and everyone involved in the organization has worked to make this such a special team.”
With the season now over, many of Tormenta’s players have classes to get back to. The majority of PDL players are currently playing on collegiate teams around the country. They’ll return to school for the upcoming fall season, but could well be back with Tormenta when the 2017 season begins in May.
Mike Anthony can be reached at email@example.com