North Texas SC were named USL League One Regular Season Champions after defeating South Georgia Tormenta FC, 2-1, Saturday night at Erk Russell Park.
Tormenta opened the scoring from a free kick in the fourth minute. Charlie Dennis served a lofted ball towards the back post from about 35 yards out, giving Conner Antley space to run on to it. Antley timed his run perfectly, hammering a first-time shot into the roof of the net to score his fifth goal of the season.
Richard Danso pulled North Texas level in the 21st minute after catching Ricardo Gomez in possession at midfield. Gomez dwelled on the ball after a long clearance from deep inside NTSC’s defensive third. Danso poked the ball free and showed good strength to hold off Gomez as he drove towards goal before beating goalkeeper Pablo Jara for his second goal of the season.
Arturo Rodriguez scored the decisive goal on the stroke of halftime from a free kick between the 18-yard box and the corner flag. Rodriguez curled an inch-perfect shot from a tight angle that found the top corner at the far post to score his seventh goal of the season and ultimately clinch the regular season title for North Texas.
Tormenta's Josh Phelps was shown his second yellow card of the match in the 72nd minute after breaking up a counterattack with a lunging tackle. Tormenta were forced to chase an equalizer down a man for the remaining 18 minutes, but to no avail as North Texas closed out the match with relative ease.
In addition to the regular season crown, the win clinches home field advantage throughout the playoffs for NTSC with three games to spare. North Texas will finish its season with matches at Forward Madison FC and FC Tucson before returning home for the first round of the USL League One Playoffs.
The loss leaves a three point gap between fifth-place Tormenta and fourth-place Forward Madison FC. Tormenta will go in search of its first win since July 24th next week when they travel to play Lansing Ignite FC.
In a match that featured seven goals, Tumi Moshobane’s 90th minute strike proved decisive as Lansing Ignite FC defeated Chattanooga Red Wolves SC at Cooley Law School Stadium Saturday night.
The Red Wolves jumped out to an early lead when Vangjel Zguro scored directly from a corner in the third minute.
Lansing answered immediately through Rafael Mentzingen who scored his sixth goal of the season five minutes after Zguro’s opener. Mentzingen picked up a poor clearance 30 yards from goal, driving forward before curling a right-footed shot past Alex Mangels to equalize.
Chattanooga pulled back in front in the 17th minute after Red Wolves Captain Steven Beattie found new striker Greg Hurst in the box with a clever pass. Hurst did well to bring the ball down and put a shot on frame, beating Stefan Cleveland at the far post to score his first goal of the season.
The Ignite equalized for the second time in the match a minute later, again catching Chattanooga on the counter. This time, Pato Botello Faz picked up a botched clearance and played a through ball into the path of Tumi Moshobane’s bombing run from midfield. Moshobane ran onto the pass and fired a left-footed shot past Mangels to score his ninth goal of the season.
Nick Moon gave the hosts their first lead of the match just before halftime. Moon exchanged a give-and-go with Pato that sprung him free at the top of the penalty area. With space in front of him, Moon struck a powerful shot that found the top corner of Mangels’ goal for his fifth tally of the season.
Hurst scored his second goal of the night in the 54th minute to pull Chattanooga back level with the hosts. Center back Timmy Mehl knocked a deflected clearance back into box towards Hurst who was unmarked near the penalty spot. Hurst turned and hit a sweetly struck first-time shot that beat Cleveland to his left to tie the match at 3-3.
Zguro was sent off in the 60th minute after a scuffle at midfield, leaving Chattanooga to play with ten men for the remainder of the match.
Moshobane scored his second goal of the night in the 90th minute to secure three points for Ignite FC. Moshobane exchanged a give-and-go with Rhys Williams before curling a shot that found the bottom corner of Mangels’ goal from 18 yards out.
With the win, Lansing is in position to clinch a position in the League One Playoffs should South Georgia Tormenta FC lose to North Texas SC in the Week 25 nightcap. The win was the Ignite’s sixth in a row, a run they’ll look to extend next week when they host Tormenta FC.
The loss makes it an uphill climb to the playoffs for Red Wolves SC; however, despite their last win coming on August 10th, the Red Wolves only sit three points out of the playoffs in sixth place. Chattanooga will close the season with three consecutive matches at home against the bottom three teams in the league, beginning next week with Orlando City B.
Danny Tenorio’s early goal was enough as Forward Madison FC defeated the Richmond Kickers, 1-0, Saturday night at City Stadium.
Tenorio gave the visitors an early lead, scoring his second goal of the season in the sixth minute. Paulo Junior found Tenorio with a drive cross after a good run of play from Madison’s midfielders. Tenorio took a touch to settle himself before beating Akira Fitzgerald at the far post to put the Flamingos in front.
Richmond had a chance to equalize in the 28th minute when Ryley Kraft found Dennis Chin with a pass at the top of the 18-yard box. Chin, with his back to goal, did well to roll his defender and turn before firing a shot on frame. Brian Sylvestre was equal to the shot and preserved his side’s 1-0 lead.
Tenorio nearly doubled the visitors' advantage in the 41st minute when Fitzgerald spilled a rebound from Paulo Junior’s shot from distance directly to him inside the six-yard box, but his shot went skyward and the lead remained at one goal heading into the halftime break.
The Kickers struggled to truly threaten Sylvestre’s goal in the second half, with their best chances coming off of the foot of Joe Gallardo from distance. Sylvestre was well-positioned when he was called upon, making five saves to earn his fourth clean sheet of the season.
The win secures Madison’s fourth place position in the League One standings. With South Georgia Tormenta FC currently losing to North Texas SC, the Flamingos have a three point lead on their nearest competitor for the final playoff spot and are one point behind Greenville Triumph SC for third place. Madison returns home to host the league leaders, NTSC next weekend with an eye on further solidifying its playoff position.
The loss, meanwhile, is the Kickers second in a row and leaves them with lots of work to do to close the gap on the five teams between them and a playoff place. Richmond will have to rack up points in the final four matches of the season, beginning next weekend in Tucson.