Some of the best amatuer soccer in the country will make its way to Erk Russell Athletic Park this weekend as Statesboro plays host to the Premier Development League’s Eastern Conference playoffs on Saturday and Sunday.
The conference played host to 25 total teams - split between the Northeast, Mid Atlantic and South Atlantic divisions — which played their regular seasons from May through the early weeks of June. On Saturday, the Long Island Roughriders will take on the Myrtle Beach Mutiny at 6 p.m., with the Charlotte Eagles and Seacoast United Phantoms scheduled to kick off at 8:30 p.m. The winners of those games will meet Sunday at 8 p.m. with the winner clinching the Eastern Conference championship and a berth into the PDL’s national semifinals.
The tournament’s host franchise, South Georgia Tormenta FC, finished a few points out of playoff contention, but turned in another solid season and will now try to put its best foot forward as it welcomes in the conference tournament contenders.
“We play in a tough division with a lot of very good teams,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said following the team’s season finale. “You see Myrtle Beach (in the playoffs) who I thought was the best team we played all season and we tied them twice. We would have liked to keep the season going, but overall we were pleased with what we were able to accomplish against this competition.”
The team may have fallen just short of the postseason, but it’s a credit to the Tormenta organization as a whole that the PDL saw fit to bring the playoffs to Statesboro anyways.
Tormenta has made plenty of waves with the national offices in its two years of existence. The club was named the PDL’s ‘Best New Franchise’ last winter and has quickly grown into the type of organization that the league wants all of its clubs to emulate.
“Tormenta is already one of our top 10 clubs in terms of the resources and professionalism that goes into running their club,” PDL director Todd Eason said. “The effort that they put into their game day atmosphere and the support they’ve drawn is what we’re always looking for.”
The hometown club has also benefitted from its relationship with Georgia Southern University. Fans of the school’s team were quick to throw their support behind Tormenta — especially as a handful of Georgia Southern players have made appearances for the squad during the collegiate offseason.
It also helps to be able to share Georgia Southern’s field.
“For the playoffs, it’s great to have a soccer specific stadium,” Eason said. “That’s something that a lot of our clubs can’t say. Many games are played on football fields and at high schools. It’s great to be able to play on a full soccer field that has the setting of being on a college campus.”
Eason added that the quality of Tormenta’s online streaming was another huge plus for its bid to host the playoffs. Since its inaugural season in 2016 every Tormenta home match can be viewed online live and for free through the club’s website. Tormenta’s game production will be on hand for all three playoff games and links to watch remotely can be found at both tormentafc.com and the official website of the PDL.
Tickets can be purchased through Tormenta’s website or at the gate.