STATESBORO, GA – The Charlotte Independence earned one point in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at South Georgia Tormenta FC. It was the Jack’s first away match of the season and goalkeeper #30 Adrian Zendejas earned his first clean sheet of the season.
The Jacks return home next week to host FC Tucson on Sunday, May 15 at American Legion Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:00 PM. It’s a double header night featuring the club’s USL W League inaugural match. The women host Greenville Liberty at 3:00 PM. One ticket is valid for both matches. Visit charlotteindependence.com to secure your seats.
“We’re still a new group coming together and we’ve played a couple different systems, so there is still a lot of learning to get done, but this is probably our strongest night defensively,” explained Charlotte Independence Head Coach, Mike Jeffries. “On other nights we’ve been better transitioning from defense into attack. We weren’t sharp enough in that area tonight, but overall defensively, the guys will feel pretty good.”
Tormenta earned the first corner kick of the match in just the first minute of play. Charlotte goalkeeper Zendejas was tested early with the service into the box, but he got up and punched the ball away dodging an early attack by South Georgia.
Charlotte’s #19 Quinn McNeill played a ball over the Tormenta back line in the 13th minute to a sprinting #11 Tresor Mbuyu on the counter attack. Mbuyu’s first cross was blocked, but his second pass found McNeill trailing at the top of the box. The shot was saved by Tormenta goalkeeper #1 Pablo Jara.
Zendejas made another big save in the 34th minute off a shot to the top left corner from #10 Adrian Billhardt. The last chance of the half came off a Tormenta corner kick. The cross found the foot of Billhardt again and his strike flew towards #6 Omar Ciss who was on the goal line to make the clearance.
“I’ll like to start off by saying how proud I am of the boys for the mentality and work ethic they brought out today,” stated Zendejas. “This shutout is a team effort, and thanks to Omar for the goal line clearance.”
Halftime score: South Georgia Tormenta FC 0 – Charlotte Independence 0
The Jacks pressed more in the second half coming up with a number of good looks on goal. It started in the 46th minute off a shot from defender #5 Shalom Dutey who missed just high over the crossbar.
Then, it wasn’t until the 80th minute of play when the Jacks drew a foul outside of the penalty box. #2 Koa Santos stepped up to take the kick and served a ball up towards the back post. #15 Carson Talboys was there to challenge, but the Tormenta defender headed it up and out of play for a corner kick.
“It was a battle all 90 minutes,” stated Talboys. ”We had spoken about the focus and mentality needed to keep a clean sheet prior to the game, so for us to go out and perform in a tough environment on our first road trip is massive for us going forward.”
Charlotte’s best look in the attack came in the 88th minute when Mbuyu turned up the speed down the left flank. He drove into the box and cut a pass back to #90 Khori Bennett who was sitting at about the PK spot. Bennett chipped his shot high and over the crossbar.
Tormenta earned a free kick for one of the last plays of the match, but nothing came of it. The final score in Statesboro: South Georgia Tormenta FC 0 – Charlotte Independence 0.
“We were obviously pleased with getting the shutout. I think it was hard for us because we never really got a rhythm that we’ve normally been able to have so that was a little bit of a frustration, but I give the guys a lot of credit,” stated Jeffries. “They competed well, they battled, they stayed tuned in and defended well. We had enough good chances to maybe get all three points but we unfortunately didn’t make the plays in the final third to get it done on the night. I think we’ll try to emphasize the positives – going on the road, defending well and getting the shutout.”
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Jacks return home next week to host FC Tucson on Sunday, May 15 at American Legion Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:00 PM. It’s a double header night featuring the club’s USL W League inaugural match. The women host Greenville Liberty at 3:00 PM. One ticket is valid for both matches. Visit charlotteindependence.com to secure your seats.