South Georgia Tormenta FC got the better of a tumultuous first half and also won a second half full of fireworks as it notched its first victory in four tries against its in-state rival, taking down Peachtree City MOBA for a 6-3 win Monday night in metro Atlanta.
Jad Arslan has been a mainstay in the midfield for Tormenta (5-3-4) throughout the season, but entered Monday’s game without a goal to his name. That all changed in a big way as he scored the team’s first two goals of the night, completed a hat trick in the second half, and drew a foul that led to a penalty kick and another Tormenta goal before leaving the game to a well-deserved ovation after 77 minutes of play.
“It’s nice to get the goals, but I was just trying to do my best out there,” Arslan said. “I thought everyone out there played hard. It was just one of those nights where the ball kept finding me.”
The win earned South Georgia a desperately needed three points in the South Atlantic Division table. Tormenta is still several points shy of notching a second place finish that would send them into the postseason, but did its part to stay in contention as the season winds down.
Just a few days ago, Tormenta had a wealth of chances, only to fall in a 1-0 defeat at Tri-Cities. Monday’s game started on a similar note as Charlie Dennis ripped off a shot on goal in the first minute that didn’t find the net.
But where that sort of luck followed Tormenta last week, much better fortunes were found in Atlanta.
In the fourth minute, Nick Wells played a ball just left of the goal and Arslan connected with a perfect shot to open the scoring.
A questionable call in the 29th minute led to a penalty kick for Peachtree City and a tie game after Edmundo Robinson beat Tormenta keeper Matt Rosenberg. Tormenta players continued to question the call following the goal and - after taking up the fight for his players - Tormenta head coach John Miglarese was ejected.
Miglarese was still on his way off the field when a free kick for Tormenta was sent into the MOBA box. Peachtree City initially cleared it, but the ball was sent back in and Arslan slipped behind the back line, heading the ball into the net to regain the lead.
In stoppage time of the first half, Josh Phelps’ header off of a corner kick glanced off of the crossbar and right to Charlie Dennis, who unloaded into the top of the net to put the momentum squarely back on Tormenta’s side.
“It was a great game for us,” said Tormenta assistant coach Jorge Gonzalez, who took over for Miglarese. “We take things one game at a time, but we knew we needed to win. I’ve coached under John for two years, so I think everyone was on the same page and knew what we were trying to do.”
“Jorge stepped right in and was great for us,” Arslan said. “He kept us going. I thought (Miglarese’s ejection) wasn’t deserved and I think we all wanted to make sure we won it after he had to leave.”
Arslan saved his best shot of the night for the 71st minute. Following a few near misses for Tormenta, Arslan gathered a ball 25 yards out and to the left of the Peachtree City box. Arslan drove towards the middle of the field and unleashed a 20-yard rocket that found the top right corner and never had a chance of being saved.
In the 76th minute, MOBA achieved its most successful defense of Arslan, tackling him just yards from a potential fourth goal. Mikie Rowe - who was celebrating his birthday - took the penalty kick. His drive was initially saved, but the rebound came directly to him and Rowe finished the job for a 5-1 lead.
Peachtree City turned the match into a slugfest as Santiago Moore chipped a shot over Rosenberg for an 81st minute strike and Daniel Valencio netted a short free kick in the 86th, but that was as close as MOBA could come.
Rowe added his second goal of the night with a blast from close range just as stoppage time began and the rest of the match quickly wound out.
Monday’s game was the fourth in 10 days for Tormenta. The team gets a small breather over the next few days, but will head back to Peachtree City for a rematch Saturday at 7:30 p.m.