STATESBORO, Ga. – South Georgia Tormenta FC obtained its first-ever title in club history on the 23rd of July, 2022. To the surprise of many, Tormenta FC were crowned the inaugural USL W League champions.
Why was it a Surprise?
Head Coach Jim Robbins built the first Tormenta FC W League roster in an unconventional way. While many W League teams were recruiting from some of the most prominent schools in the United States, Tormenta FC took a different route and recruited players with a championship-winning mindset.
To the naked eye, the W League project started in July 2021. However, this process started many years ago. This team worked because of the chemistry built throughout the years. The core of the team dates back to 2012. Sydney Martinez, Isabella and Helen Gutierrez, and Erin and Lauren O’Hearn have built chemistry since their Storm Soccer Academy (now known as Tormenta FC Academy) days. After receiving commitments from all of these former Academy product, as well as the first-ever W League player announced in Elise Holcey, the team started to take shape and started to complete the puzzle by bringing in players that fit the “Tormenta Way.”
With the W League team set to begin competition in May, Robbins knew the importance of getting the team settled in and ready to take on the Statesboro summer heat.
Learning As We Go
As match day one of the USL W League got closer, so did the excitement of seeing Tormenta FC’s first-ever pre-professional women’s soccer team compete. With SC United Bantams coming into town, Tormenta FC knew putting on a good show was crucial.
As the new league formed, many things were learned along the way. Despite many efforts, all international players were not registered on time for the season’s first game. However, with a starting 11 of all domestic players, the team was ready to compete even if the roster was not entirely registered. With only two goalkeepers as substitutes, Tormenta FC earned a valuable 0-0 result without any substitutions against one of the projected best teams in the W League.
Lesson Learned, Now We Move On
Four days after the first home game, South Georgia traveled to Brentwood, Tennessee, to take on the Tennessee Soccer Club in a match many international and domestic players made their debuts. An Amy Andrews brace helped Tormenta FC obtain its first win in club history and sparked a winning streak that saw them only lose one game the entire season.
South Central Division Conquered; To the Playoffs, We Go!
Not only did Andrews become one of the best players ever to wear the navy and magenta, but in two months, South Georgia took the nation by storm. From the University of the Pacific crew to the Young Harris College standout, the team clicked and brought joy and hope to everyone in South Georgia.
Destiny saw Tormenta FC head to Miami, Florida, for the second time in 2022 after the League One team faced off against MLS side Inter Miami earlier in the Round of 32 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. This time around, the W League team was matched with the undefeated FC Miami City, but once again, Amy Andrews scored the only goal of the game to secure the first playoff win for Tormenta FC.
Next up, a trip to Greenville, South Carolina, to take on the Greenville Liberty, one of the best teams in the W League, in the semifinals. The rivalry between the organizations made this fixture the match to watch, with the professional team being unbeaten in a year against the Greenville Triumph. With many high-caliber names rostered to its team, the Liberty knew this was a game that could stop Tormenta FC’s winning ways in Greenville.
However, that was not the case.
Remi Olalere opened up the score, while an Andrews brace and Jaida Nyby’s goal sealed the 4-1 win against the neighboring state rival. Thus, the W League team continued the now ongoing tradition of bringing back a win when playing in Greenville.
A trip to Minnesota followed to take on the undefeated Minnesota Aurora. In front of 6,000 fans, the team from Statesboro kept the occasion from getting to them and opened up the game with a quick goal less than ten minutes into the start of the game. Jaida Nyby, a University of the Pacific midfielder, scored a crucial goal in Tormenta FC history, beating Sarah Fuller for the first time that night. A historic penalty stop followed in extra time, leading to the play that won it all. A corner kick right before the end of the second extra time period saw the ball bounce all over the place before settling in from of Nyby, who chested the ball down before hitting an incredible shot from outside of the box, leaving Sarah Fuller reactionless and beating her for the second and final time. With seconds to spare, the team from Statesboro had done it. The team from Statesboro came to Minnesota and broke more than 6,000 fans’ hearts.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the final was hosted at the same time as the first team’s fixture against North Carolina FC. As a staff, many of us could not travel to the final due to game day duties. With only one staff member in Minnesota and the rest at Erk Russell Park, the celebrations were nationwide. Being in the press box and seeing Owners Darin and Netra Van Tassell watch the celebrations on their phones, ecstatic and proud of what their team accomplished, was a highlight of the night.
The next day, Sun Country Airlines flight 207 from Minneapolis, Minnesota, landed at 12:41 p.m. ET at Savannah Hilton Head International Airport, and with it, South Georgia and the Lowcountry of South Carolina’s first-ever USL W League title. Greeted by an impressive crowd, the champions were welcomed home.
2022 will be a year to remember for Tormenta FC as an entire organization, but it only gets better. The Tormenta FC W League’s class of 2022 was just the start of what the organization has to offer with its women’s program. With Tormenta Stadium opening in 2022, the upcoming 2023 season will be one to look forward to, with many more wins to come.
- Sydney Martinez, Golden Glove
- Sydney Martinez, MVP of the USL W League FInal
- Amy Andrews, Golden Boot.
- Amy Andrews, 2022 W League Player of the Year
- Amy Andrews, Most goals scored in one match (4)
- Tormenta FC, South Central Division Winners
- Tormenta FC, Most goals scored in one match (8)
- Tormenta FC, 2022 USL W League Champions