It was a bit of history on Saturday night in Georgia, as the Otters opened USL League Two play with a win for the first-time ever behind two goals from Patrick O’Halloran (Lynn). After a lightning delay late in the first half, the Otters stormed back in the second half to score two goals, from O’Halloran and Leiva,to secure the win. The result puts the Otters at the top of the Deep South standings, with a date against One Knoxville coming this Tuesday. The Otters annual youth camp will be held June 13–16 and registration is now open!
The Otters got off to a quick start when a long throw in by Davis McBee (Belmont Abbey) was flicked into the box by captain Jan Gruhn (CSU-Pueblo). A contested ball in the air by Noah Kvifte (St. Leo) fell to a waiting O’Halloran, who blasted it home for the 1–0 lead in the 8th minute.
Following an Otters own goal of a Dalton cross into the box, the Otters settled in defensively behind Gruhn, Andy Elkins (UAM), and Austin Yowell (Belmont) and did not allow a shot on goal for the entirety of the match.
In the 35th minute, the teams were sent to the locker room for almost an hour because of lightning returning to the field in a downpour. The remainder of the second half did not yield much action as both teams looked to get back into the game and adjust to the conditions.
After a shortened halftime, the midfield duo of Raul Varela (Lynn) and Nicolas Cortes (Drake) set the tone for the Otters in the second half, with Varela drawing a penalty after being brought down from behind in the 61st minute. O’Halloran stepped up to the spot and calmly buried it to put the Otters in front for good.
The Otters turned to their bench to help see the game out as Agu Ortiz (Anderson), Davis Eddleman (Belmont), and Uritz Uriarte (Post) helped the team control the ball offensively much more in the second half. In the 75th minute, Yowell played a long ball down the left side to Esteban Leiva (Belmont) who had just subbed on, who rounded the keeper and finished from the tight angle for the final 3–1 scoreline.
Dalton continued to apply pressure, but the backline, and the final substitutes of Torge Witteborg (Duquesne) and Ethan Bishop (Milligan) made several key clearances to break up attacks and see the game out.
The Otters now sit atop the division and will travel to Knxoville on Tuesday. The first home game of the season is only TEN days away when Appalachian FC comes to TVA Credit Union Ballpark for the second leg of the OtterSquatch Cup. Tickets for that match and all other home games is now on sale! With the 2022 season underway, be sure to follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on all things Otters! #FearTheFur