Jad Arslan notched a hat trick against Peachtree City MOBA in Tormenta's win over its in-state rival last weekend.
Arslan likely spent the week running through the nightmares of MOBA players throughout the week as a rematch loomed Saturday evening in metro Atlanta. Indeed, those bad dreams turned into a reality as Arslan scored once more to push Tormenta ahead early en route to a 2-0 victory over Peachtree City.
"I thought we played very well, and we had to in order to get this win," said Tormenta coach Jorge Gonzalez. "Winning two straight on the road is challenging enough, but to do it against the same team — that's not something you get a chance to do often."
Arslan resumed his role as perpetual thorn in MOBA's side in the 37th minute.
Jamie Merriam used some fancy footwork to get through a pair of defenders while making a run into the box. Just before he was pinched off, Merriam slid the ball to his left to find a wide open Arslan who easily blasted a shot past the keeper to get the scoring started.
"Getting the first one is always big," Tormenta midfielder Reed Norton said. "It was a great play to watch develop and it gave us the momentum."
While goals have come in bunches at times for Tormenta this season, Saturday's win required a bit more effort from the defense. Tormenta controlled the ball and the pace of play for the majority of the match, but Peachtree City was the aggressor for nearly 10 minutes of the first half and manufactured a few more chances in the final 45 minutes of play.
Even when MOBA possessed the ball well into Tormenta territory, good chances were hard to come by. South Georgia's back line was solid throughout the game and Matt Rosenberg saved the only two threatening shots he faced in botching his fifth clean sheet of the season.
"I think the entire back line was solid all night," Tormenta defender Ayou Sossou said. "We controlled the middle and pushed them outside all night. Our offense was able to find those shots from the middle to make the difference."
Peachtree City recorded one of its few shots on goal in the 57th minute, but the tables were immediately turned.
Tormenta head coach John Miglarese insisted during the team's early struggles that things would eventually click. Following Rosenberg's save, a quick outlet pass was followed by four more that traversed the length of the field — crossing and re-centering along the way — before Arslan found the net again.
The strike was called back for offsides but served as a testament to the well-oiled machine that Tormenta has become.
"If you don't know soccer, you might not notice, since it was called back," Gonzalez said. "But that was a really pretty run. Everyone was running together and worked down the field. If it had counted, that would have been one of the better goals you'll see."
The offside call kept the Tormenta lead at a fragile 1-0, but Mikie Rowe — who netted two goals of his own in last weekend's win over MOBA — found room near the top of the box on the left side and drove a shot into the right side of the net in the 72nd minute.
"I think that one really put the nail in it," Rowe said.
When asked if the seven combined goals from he and Arslan earned them privileges on the ride home, he was also quick to spread the wealth.
"We've had a lot of guys step up," Rowe said. "It's been me and Jad for two games, but it was Jamie before that and our defense too."
With the win, Tormenta remains in the chase for a berth in the PDL Eastern Conference playoffs.
Tormenta comes home and has a week of rest before hosting the Tri-Cities Otters July 15 in the regular season finale.
The two sides have met twice already this season, with each team recording a 1-0 home victory.
Following four draws in seven matches, South Georgia Tormenta FC knew it needed to start notching wins if it wanted to stay in playoff contention.
82 minutes into a match against SC United Bantams in Columbia Saturday night, Tormenta saw yet another tied score staring back from the scoreboard.
And then the cavalry arrived.
Sam Lofts — the leading goal scorer in Tormenta’s inaugural season — scored his first two goals of the game. Reed Norton and Kieran Roberts also found the back of the net as an ambush over the final 10 minutes of play rewarded Tormenta with a 4-0 victory.
“We’ve played well and not gotten these results in other games, so this was a long time coming,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said. “I think we showed a lot of mental toughness. We dominated in the first half, but had nothing to show for it. Then we had to hang on for 18-20 minutes.
“We made some substitutions that factored in well for us and finally let loose once that first goal went in.”
The watershed moment for Tormenta (2-2-4) came in the 83rd minute. A cross found the middle of the SC United box and Lofts was on the spot, volleying the pass cleanly into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, SC United was assessed a red card and reduced to 10 players. That only fed into Tormenta’s momentum as Lofts found the net again in the 87th minute of action.
After so many draws and unrealized chances, Tormenta was all too happy to pour it on.
“We felt like (a 4-2 loss to SC United earlier in the season) got away from us,” Tormenta’s Nick Wells said. “Their P.A. announcer kind of reminded everyone about that before the game. I think everyone was in the right mindset to make sure we played out best and finished this game.”
Tormenta dominated most of the first half. The visiting side was able to control possession and create chances, but once again found itself missing out on close chances due to shots ricocheting off posts and opposing goalkeepers coming up with great saves.
When SC United turned the tide for a few minutes in the second half, Tormenta keeper Matt Rosenberg and his back line were able to keep the danger away.
“There’s a lot of back-and-forth in every game,” Rosenberg said. “We played well throughout the game and our subs did a great job of making a difference late. (SC United) made a few runs, but — even when we’re playing well offensively — it’s all about keeping your head in the game and being ready. The game can turn in a moment. We made plays on defense to stop that and then we were able to turn the game with our offense.”
With the victory, Tormenta took a small, but important step into the heart of the South Atlantic Division standings. More wins will be needed to make a run at the postseason, but Tormenta will have a chance to build off of its newfound momentum next week when the Tri-Cities Otters come to town.
South Georgia Tormenta FC put forth another solid effort as it travelled to take on the Myrtle Beach Mutiny Thursday evening. But — in what has become a trend this season — a solid effort didn’t result in the optimal outcome.
In a mirror result of the season opener in Statesboro, Myrtle Beach opened the scoring before Tormenta equaled, and the game ended in a hard-fought fought 1-1 draw.
“This was a very close and very well-played game,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said. “I think Myrtle Beach is the best team we’ve seen and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the playoffs. Both teams played hard and earned a point in a game that could have gone either way.”
With two draws now on the record between the squads, it was no surprise that Thursday’s affair was evenly matched, but it was Tormenta (1-2-4) that will walk away wondering what could have been.
Less than 10 minutes into the action, a Tormenta free kick ended up in the back of the net, only to be called back for an offside violation. In the 14th minute, Charlie Dennis sailed a shot just over the bar in a great scoring opportunity. And with the score tied 1-1 in the waning minutes, Tormenta saw another pair of solid chances skirt by, leaving them with their fourth draw of the season.
Tied at 0-0 after the first half of action, it was Myrtle Beach that struck first as a streaking shot from outside the box by Ricardo Gomez got past Tormenta goalkeeper Keegan Meyer in the 51st minute.
Less than a minute before that strike, Tormenta forward Charlie Dennis sent a free kick just over the crossbar after beating the Myrtle Beach keeper.
In the 66th minute, Dennis got another free kick opportunity from nearly the same spot. He made good on his second chance, finding the net to draw the game level.
“I hit it well the first time going to the near post,” Dennis said. “The second time, I changed it up and went to the far post. It’s a unique feeling when you hit it just right. It was on target and got in.”
Tormenta seemed to get the better of the final half hour of play. A solid cross by Ayao Sossou in the 77th minute couldn’t find a finisher and Jordan Lue fired just over the crossbar on a shot from 25 yards out in the 84th minute.
A save by the Mutiny goalkeeper and some quick-thinking defense on a corner after the 90th minute kept the game even, leading to the whistle sounding on the second 1-1 draw between the two sides.
“We played hard,” Tormenta’s Josh Phelps said. “We’re playing well, but it gets to where you almost expect a bad bounce, or a bad call, or for a shot to hit the crossbar. It takes a lot to fight through that, but that’s what we’re doing. We’re fighting every game and confident that we’ll start to get wins.”
Tormenta will stay on the road — and in South Carolina — as they make a short trip into the heart of the Palmetto State to take on the SC United Bantams Saturday.