With four points from their last two matches, Tormenta’s USLW team came in to Thursday game against Chattanooga looking to build on their recent success and vault themselves back into playoff contention.
Unfortunately for the defending league champions, Tormenta ran in to a talented Chattanooga Red Wolves team that was able to do just enough to earn the win, scoring their lone goal on a deflection early in the second half to win 1-0.
After a scoreless first half, Tormenta (1-2-2, 5 points) came out firing in the second half. They had a flurry of chances in the first five minutes of the second stanza including opportunities where the ball crossed the face of the goal twice but Tormenta wasn’t able to find the finishing touch to get the goal they needed.
Moments later, Chattanooga (4-1-1, 13 points) was able to break the scoring drought when a Mackenzie Smith shot deflected off a Tormenta defender into the goal to put the visitors ahead 1-0.
The Red Wolves looked to double their lead in the 55th minute, but goalkeeper Keara Fitzgerald was able to block the shot to keep the Tormenta deficit at a single goal.
“It’s not like we gave up a lot (defensively),” Tormenta Head Coach Jim Robbins said following the match. “They hit the post on a free kick in the first half and other than that, I don’t think Keara had a lot to do where she was pulling out eight or nine or 10 saves. So we have to do our part and score.”
Midfielder Gemma Jefferson said the team battled hard and played well, but were just missing the connection in the final third of the field needed to score.
“We have so much talent and so many talented players so it’s really just working on connecting together and getting that chemistry right,” she said.
Robbins is encouraged with his team’s performance and knows the offense is coming soon.
“If I knew how to produce goals, as a coach, I’d be a rich millionaire and so would a bunch of other coaches out there,” he said. “We all know it’s the hardest thing to do in our sport. It’s there, but we just have to get it, but it’s coming.”
Chattanooga appeared to score early in the match off a corner kick in the 14th minute, but a foul was called on the Red Wolves that disallowed the goal.
That non-goal was the culmination of several early chances by Chattanooga but after that, Tormenta settled in as there was much more back and forth action.
Moments before that, however, starting midfielder Smith Cathey, who plays for Georgia Southern, injured her ankle in the fifth minute. She was helped off the field and was on crutches following the match.
Cathey’s Tormenta and Georgia Southern teammate Sade Heinrichs said she was impressed with how the team played Thursday despite the loss.
“I thought we played with way more heart and we kept fighting until the end,” she said. “We were talking about it this week that we need to show more grit and I think we showed it tonight,” she said.
In the closing minutes of the match, Tormenta continued to pressure the Chattanooga defense, sending multiple crosses into the box including one in the final minutes that Roisin McGovern was able to get her head on, but the ball sailed over the goal and seconds later the referee blew his whistle to end the game.
“I honestly think our last few minutes were some of the best of the game,” Jefferson said. “Having that intenseness, that bite and that grit the whole game instead of the last few minutes (will help us going forward,)” she said.
Despite the loss, Robbins said there was a lot to take away from Thursday’s match as the team prepares for its next game on Sunday.
“I like the speed of play. I like the combinations and the mobility. Those are things that we’ve been talking about and focusing on, so that part is good,” he said.
Tormenta returns to action Sunday when they host North Alabama and Robbins is hoping they’re able to turn things around.
“I’m not really sure what North Alabama brings,” he said. “I think they may not be as strong as these last couple of teams that we’ve seen this week and last week so we’re hoping that we have the opportunity to get a couple of goals, get some confidence up and that’s really what we’re going to shoot for.”
Kickoff for the North Alabama match is set for 7:30 p.m. at Tormenta Stadium