In its first two seasons of play, the only thing separating Tormenta FC from the Premier Development League playoffs has been a pair of slow starts.
While both seasons ended with winning records, losses and draws early in 2016 and 2017 left Tormenta with too much space to make up in the standings. A PDL season-opening draw at Peachtree City MOBA last week left Tormenta with unearned points on the table, but the squad bounced back in its home opener.
Facing the Tri-Cities Otters out of Tennessee, Tormenta was forced to play the second half with 10 men following a double-yellow card sending off. Tormenta faught through the adversity, finding the net in the second half and playing solid defense to help goalkeeper Pablo Jara record a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory.
“During halftime, we knew the situation,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said. “We wanted to do something they weren’t expecting. We kept two high forwards pinching and everyone kept grinding. I thought we did a great job of keeping up the intensity and playing to win."
Tormenta defender Callum Chapman-Page had already been booked with a yellow card early in the first half. Just before halftime, Chapman-Page — and many of his teammates -—seemed dissatisfied with the referee signaling for halftime and not allowing a Tormenta free kick. Chapman-Page was shown a second yellow and a red, forcing Tormenta to fight on with just 10 players on the field.
Miglarese’s strategy to keep his team aggressive and not fall back while playing for a tie paid off early in the second half. With the midfield pressing up, Tormenta intercepted a pass in open space and immediately transitioned into a counter-attack.
A trio of Tri-Cities players gave chase, but a pair of passes left Yaya Cisse with a clear shot on goal that he cashed in for what would be the only tally necessary to secure a win and three very valuable points in the league standings.
Tri-Cities earned several corner kicks in the first half, but the adjustments made by Tormenta over the final 45 minutes were able to neutralize building attacks in the second half. Jara made several timely saves and the Otters only had a few good looks at the net.
After moving in front on Cisse's goal, Tormenta was able to focus on nailing down the win.
"We have a lot of athleticism on the field," Miglarese said. We had Yaya and Jaques Francois up top and they were shredding the back line for a while. We knew we couldn't keep that up all night. But we got the goal we needed.
"We had to shift guys around and had some playing new positions, but everyone responded and we did what we had to do to get the win."
With the win, Tormenta improves to 1-0-1 on the season. Next up for Tormenta is a week of training before taking on SC United Bantams on Saturday at home.