South Georgia Tormenta FC played the most exciting game in its young history Wednesday night, lighting up the scoreboard for a 3-3 draw against Peachtree City MOBA in metro Atlanta/
Tormenta (6-5-2) battled back to tie the match on two separate occasions before Todd Fidler's long strike in the 81st minute pushed Peachtree City to a 3-2 lead. Not to be outdone, Sidney McClain scored his first goal of the season just after stoppage time began to draw the score even for a third and final time.
“We were seeking a win, but we at least got a point,” Tormenta coach Ben Freakley said. “This wasn't how we drew things up, but I give our guys credit. We fought hard to keep coming back when we were down.”
The script was very nearly a better one for Tormenta.
Less than a minute before Fidler's late strike, Nico Rittmeyer's first touch off of a long, lofted pass found the back of the net, only to be nullified by a questionable offside call. Tormenta had another goal taken away due to an offside flag in the first half — the second time this season that multiple goals have been yanked away from South Georgia due to offside calls.
The first negated goal came just minutes before Peachtree City made a permanent dent in the scoreboard. MOBA earned a corner kick and Nick Spielman lept above the pack, heading a goal into the right side of the net to give Peachtree City a 1-0 lead that stood through halftime.
Intent on upping the pressure, Tormenta controlled the early minutes of the second half and equalized on a strike by Eli Dent in the 66th minute. But as soon as South Georgia pulled even, Peachtree City struck again. An awkward shot drew Tormenta goalkeeper Alex Guerra off his line and an initial deflection was caromed into the net by Fidler for a 2-1 MOBA advantage.
Playing for its postseason life, South Georgia sold out on the attack over the final half hour of play. Georgia Southern products hooked up for a second equalizer as Hunter Loyden found the head of Jeremy Rector for a 2-2 deadlock at the 77-minute mark.
Rittmeyer's negated goal and Fidler's second strike came in the ensuing frantic minutes before Tormenta – throwing all caution to the wind – got multiple attackers behind MOBA's back line, resulting in McClain's goal.
With just one game remaining in the regular season, the playoff picture is far from clear and the brand-new Tormenta franchise is still in the thick of things.
If the division-leading Charlotte Eagles finish with the most points in the Eastern Conference, the South Atlantic Division (Tormenta's home) will see its top three teams advance to the playoffs. Currently tied for fourth place and trailing third place SC United Bantams by three points, Tormenta just so happens to have a date with the Bantams Friday in the Palmetto State.
A win over the Bantams could mean as much as a three-way tie for third place, but Tormenta's season-long goal differential would give it the likely advantage and a push into the playoffs in its inaugural season.
“We talked about our situation at halftime tonight,” Freakley said. “We know that we have to win. We almost accomplished that tonight, but now everyone knows exactly what we have to do in our final game.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.