South Georgia Tormenta FC entered its final home game of the season riding high on six wins in their last seven games, but finally ran into a buzz saw in the form of the Charlotte Eagles.
After battling to a 0-0 tie through the first half, Tormenta (6-5-1) conceded three second-half goals, falling 3-0 to the South Atlantic Division leaders a month after upsetting the Eagles on the road.
“We’re a good team. This doesn’t change that,” Tormenta coach Ben Freakley said. “We got beat by a team that is also very good, and they deserved the win tonight. But people shouldn’t get the wrong idea from this score. These are two good teams who split the season series and I still like where we are, moving forward.”
While Charlotte (10-2-1) controlled much of the possession and pace in the first half, the Eagles were seldom able to find an open look on the South Georgia net. Conversely, Tormenta was about to mount several solid counterattacks and made Charlotte keeper Will Pyle sprawl for a pair of saves.
That trend continued through the early minutes of the second half until Charlotte pieced together a quick, three-pass sequence that penetrated deep into Tormenta territory. A first shot was turned away, but Santi Moore slid a rebound past Tormenta keeper Alex Guerra to start the scoring in the 51st minute.
The Eagles continued to pressure from there and threatened on many possessions. A few solid passes opened up the box for Kelvin Omandi whose low, driving shot made it 2-0 72 minutes into action.
South Georgia worked its way to several corner kicks, crosses and dangerous through balls, but were never able to break through.
“We had our chances,” Freakley said.”The difference was in finishing. They got the final pass, the final touch, to score. We weren’t able to find that.”
Omandi put an exclamation point on the Eagles’ night, finding the net a second time in the 81st minute to put the game out of reach.
“We took some risks being down 2-0,” Freakley said. “That can lead to more chances (going the other way). But I think that also shows our intensity. Whoever we had in there, they were fighting hard until the end.”
While Saturday’s loss puts a damper on Tormenta’s playoff hopes, there is a bit of a silver lining.
Charlotte currently has the most points of the three Eastern Conference division leaders, giving the South Atlantic Division the inside track for three playoff slots while other divisions will only see their top two teams advance.
Tormenta currently sits in fifth place with 19 points – six points shy of second place, but just a point out of a third place spot that could hold a ticket into the postseason.
South Georgia hits the road for its final two games of the regular season next week. Tormenta will take on in-state rival Peachtree City MOBA Thursday before travelling to SC United Bantams next Saturday.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.