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Tormenta stakes its claim as best in the country
Tormenta FC
Tormenta FC's Ayao Sossou races towards the fans on the sidelines after scoring against the Myrtle Beach Mutiny during a June 9 match at Erk Russell Park in Satesboro. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

On the day that South Georgia Tormenta was officially announced to the world, team president Darin Van Tassell didn’t pull any punches. He was excited for his new team, but he was straightforward with saying that his - at the time - mostly nonexistent club expected to win early and often.

Fast forward three years and it’s hard to laugh at what may have seemed like an overly-optimistic vision at the time.

Tormenta FC has already appeared in the prestigious U.S. Open Cup, currently leads its division, and is one of just three squads in the 74-team Premier Development League that is still without a loss this summer.

Simply put, Tormenta promised the world and might be managing to over-deliver on that claim.

In its first season of existence, the club was one of the highest-drawing teams in the nation. That, along with a winning season, earned Tormenta recognition as the PDL’s ‘New Franchise of the Year’. And in 2017, the squad followed things up with another winning campaign and some behind-the-scenes efforts that nearly won the franchise the overall honors for the PDL.

But the real key to the success of Tormenta is that all of the initial success has been taken in stride, properly honored, but also set aside on the shelf as things press on.

Last summer brought about rumors of a new stadium to be build that would serve the team, as well as Georgia Southern Soccer and various community events. The official announcement for the venue came at the beginning of this year alongside an even bigger announcement that the club will become a full professional outfit in the fledgling USL D3 in 2019.

The front office and national publicity carried its share of the weight in promoting the team for the last 12 months and now the 11 guys on the field are doing their best to one-up even that impressive campaign.

Heading into tonight’s game, Tormenta is one of the hottest teams in the entire nation. The squad played to a draw in its first PDL game of the season, but has rattled off eight consecutive wins since then - including a perfect home record that even extends to Wednesday’s victory in Savannah over the SC United Bantams.

It’s pretty simple — and fun — when you think about it.

Statesboro bases a lot of its athletic pride in the fact that it has willed programs from non-existence into greatness.

Statesboro High has five state titles to its name. Georgia Southern football has six national championships and its baseball team can lean on an NAIA national title and a pair of trips to the College World Series. 

And the magic seems to have happened again.

Soccer might be a new chapter in the lexicon of Statesboro sports fanaticism, but it’s one that is worth buying into. A trip out to Erk Russell Park tonight will treat you to a showcase of some incredible amateur talent that might very well be professional talent in the span of a few months.

I’ll be honest in admitting that I’ve usually kept soccer at an arm’s length when buying into the teams I support. But the last few years of Tormenta building its brand has made me a fan, and it could use — and deserves — a few thousand more as it moves forward.