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.
South Georgia Tormenta FC notched its first win of the season Thursday night with a 2-0 win against the division-leading Nashville SC. Tormenta squared off against Nashville once again Saturday night at Erk Russell Athletic Park.
The home team once again netted two goals, but couldn’t quite get a second consecutive victory, settling instead for a 2-2 draw to end its season series against Nashville with a win, a loss and Saturday’s tie.
“It’s a little perplexing,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said. “I think we played well enough to win. Nashville played well too, but we had the chances to win this game. For whatever reason, that has been the case in a number of matches this season where we didn’t end up with a win.”
A tense back-and-forth match erupted late as the teams traded goals.
Tormenta had been turned away - be it by the post or by Nashville keeper William Kyle’s stellar performance - from multiple chances to take the lead. As the match entered the 80th minute, a blocked shot by the Nashville defense and another save by Pyle added to the frustration. But a corner kick for Tormenta - after yet another deflected shot - finally found the foot of Max Hasenstab, who slotted it low and past a sprawling Pyle for a 2-1 lead.
A healthy Tormenta crowd that had been on edge for much of the game finally exploded with the goal and it seemed as if a second straight win over the division leader was imminent.
But the celebration was over before it had a chance to wind down on its own.
A quick foul by Tormenta off of the restart gave Nashville a free kick. The ball sailed deep into the South Georgia box. It initially cleared all Nashville players, but also travelled so deep as to cause a crowd of players to converge on the goal line.
The ball smacked off of the right post before pinballing off of both Tormenta and Nashville players, finally coming to a rest at the back of the net for a 2-2 tie.
“It was a little bit of a lapse,” Miglarese said. “We worked hard to take the lead, but then we don’t play well off the restart and give up a quick foul.”
“It’s crazy,” Tormenta midfielder Mikie Rowe said. “In all of these games, we feel like the better team and we feel like we play a better game, but the results just haven’t been there.”
Early on, the match featured the punching and counter-punching that could be expected of two teams that had matchup up just 48 hours earlier.
Tormenta didn’t control possession quite as well as it had on Thursday, but in the 34th minute Jaimie Merriam collected a pass just outside of the Nashville box, dribbled once toward the middle of the field and let loose a left-footed sniper shot that tucked neatly into the top right corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
South Georgia maintained the momentum through the end of the half, but Pyle kept Nashville in the match, notching six saves - some in rapid-fire fashion - over a five-minute span and negating what seemed to be some sure goals for Tormenta.
Nashville’s offense slowly built up better attacks in the second half. There were no solid shots on goal through the first two-thirds of the game, but a Tormenta foul inside its own box in the 62nd minute set up Blake Wilson for a penalty kick that he slipped past Tormenta keeper Keegan Meyer.
In three matches against Tormenta, Wilson’s goal was the fifth for Nashville and the third to come by way of a penalty kick.
“I’m proud of the effort and we played well, but didn’t quite get the win,” Miglarese said. “A tough call and a lapse on a restart made a big difference. I think we’ve shown how well we can play, but those little things that hurt are why we need to continue to improve every day as we move ahead.
Tormenta has played five of its first six games at home and must now play six of its last eight on the road. The long journey begins with a trip to the Palmetto State as Tormenta visits Myrtle Beach Thursday before heading to SC United next Saturday.