Goal scored by #56 Gabriel Obertan (8’).
STATESBORO, G.A. (October 22, 2022) – The Charlotte Independence’s first USL League One season came to an end following a dramatic 2-1 quarterfinal loss to South Georgia Tormenta FC tonight at Optim Sports Medicine Field.
“The guys put a lot into the game,” Head Coach Mike Jeffries said. “I couldn’t be prouder in terms of the energy and effort that they poured into the night. They were fighting to the last minute of the game to get the equalizer.”
With co-leading goal scorer #11 Tresor Mbuyu out with injury on the night, #56 Gabriel Obertan stepped up for the Jacks early in the first half. It was in the 8th minute that #2 Koa Santos defended well to win the ball off Tormenta and dish a short pass up to Obertan. He ran from box to box and put a rocket of a shot into the back of the net beating Tormenta goalkeeper #99 TJ Bush on the near post. The goal was Obertan’s fourth of the season giving Charlotte the early lead.
“I’m honestly very proud of this team,” Obertan said. “We didn’t start this season with much and we still managed to show good football and a lot of heart. I was looking forward to keeping it going but we got very unlucky tonight.”
South Georgia Tormenta FC earned the first corner kick of the match in the 11th minute. #10 Adrian Billhardt served the ball into the box and it was #5 Joshua Phelps who was first to it. He took the shot out of the air, but sent it high over the crossbar.
The Jacks earned back to back free kicks in the 24th and 26th minutes respectively. They were unable to capitalize, but defender #17 Clay Dimick made a huge tackle to prevent a counter attack on the other end by Tormenta and the speedy #7 Kingsford Adjei.
“It’s been an honor to lead this group throughout the season,” Dimick said. “The fight we showed tonight, despite the obstacles thrown at us, shows who this team is. Thank you to the supporters who were here with us or back home, your support throughout the season means everything to us.”
Tormenta’s best look at goal in the first half came in the 36th minute after a through ball was played behind the Jacks defense and to the feet of Adjei. He passed the ball towards the back post. It rolled across frame and missed just wide.
Charlotte’s final opportunity of the half came in the 45th minute off another free kick. #13 Chris Hegardt put in the service which skipped by several Independence players with no one able to get a touch on it.
The score at half: South Georgia Tormenta FC 0 – Charlotte Independence 1.
Tormenta came out pressing the Jacks back line in the second half. In the 48th minute, #9 Kazaiah Sterling turned in midfield with ample space in front of him. Charlotte was unable to close him down before a shot from outside the box bounced past Independence goalkeeper #30 Adrian Zendejas.
A minute later, a Tormenta through ball sent Sterling towards goal. Defender #3 Hector Acosta made contact from behind resulting in a red card. The Charlotte Independence dropped to 10 men for the remaining 40 minutes of the match.
The Jacks defense was under even more pressure now, but #5 Shalom Dutey came up with a big block in the 56th minute to intercept a dangerous cross.
Charlotte earned a free kick in the 62nd minute. Dimick ran up and touched the ball to the right to set up Obertan for the shot. It was another low attempt on frame, but he was unable to put it past the Tormenta goalkeeper.
A Tormenta corner kick in the 74th minute led to a called hand ball inside the box that gave the home team a look from the penalty spot. It was Sterling again for Tormenta who took the kick and passed it into the lower right corner of the net.
The Jacks did have several chances in the final minutes to equalize including a header from Dutey and a shot from #18 Illia Shevtsov, but were unable to find the back of the net.
“It’s too early to talk about the season,” Jeffries said. “I think in a couple of days we’ll go back and review it. I think right now, it’s time to feel for the guys and appreciate what they put into it.”
Charlotte’s first USL League One season comes to an end in Statesboro. The final score: South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 – Charlotte Independence 1.