By Georgia Storm
Georgia Storm hosted Appalachian FC in the Southeast Conference semi-final playoff match on July 14th. The Squatch traveled to Carrollton, Georgia as the 3rd seed in the conference, but they traveled well with a large group of supporters. Georgia Storm had a huge following as well with the match a huge showcase for Storm’s NPSL players showing the club’s youth players in attendance some wonderful soccer. Storm started the match on the front foot taking the game to Appalachian FC early.
In the fourth minute, Storm’s Andrew Carleton took an outswinging corner that was initially cleared when Storm’s Kevin Fitzgerald hit a well-timed volley towards goal when it struck the arm of an Appalachian FC player. As a result the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Carleton calmly slotted the ball to the left to give Storm the 1-0 advantage.
After the goal, Appalachian FC responded positively, taking the match to Storm for the next 10 to 15 minutes. Appalachian FC pounced on a poor backpass from a Storm defender as he dribbled around the goalkeeper before being brought down in the edge of the area, giving Appalachian FC a penalty of their own. The Appalachian player calmly slotted the ball in the bottom left corner for the 1-1 equalizer.
The goal provided Appalachian some energy as they kept pressing for the second. After some good combination play, Appalachian were in on goal as they dribbled around the goalkeeper on the goal line butHunter Jumper made a fantastic goalline block from a tight angle. Quickly on the other end Wilfried Kamdem Tchoupa beat his man and fired a low blast just inches wide. To end the half, Carleton connected with a vicious free kick that the goalkeeper blocked at the last second.
As the second half began, Storm slowly took over and pinned Appalachian FC deeper in their half. After a few tactical changes, Storm took over possession and began creating lots of chances in wide areas. As the Georgia heat beat down on both teams, the game stretched and there is more space for both teams to operate.
In the 73rd minute, a nice bit of play down Storm’s right side created a shooting chance for Kamdem Tchoupa who fired a low strike near post by the Appalachian goalkeeper for the 2-1 lead to Storm. As the half wore on in this physical battle, both teams were forced into changes, including both of Storm’s starting center backs being withdrawn.
For the last 10 minutes, Appalachian FC pressed but Storm sat deep and stood strong, soaking up enormous bits of pressure. Storm goalkeeper Bas Markus, having made two huge first-half saves, dealt with several crosses and impeccably distributed to help slow the match down. The Storm now march on to the conference finals to visit longtime NPSL side Georgia Revolution FC in what promises to be an exciting rematch. Georgia Storm’s supporters will travel to McDonough on Saturday.
Photo Credit: Matt Laczko