It was a wet and rainy night, but the Otters remained unfazed as they turned a dominating performance into a 3–0 win over first place West Virginia United. Led by a goal and assist from both Agu Ortiz (Anderson) and Tom Tzabari (Duquesne), the Otters new look 3–4–3 formation allowed for them to control the game for much of the match. The win moves their record to 2–3–1 and just two points out of fourth place with at least one game in hand on each team in front of them. The Otters close out the home stand with a win, a draw, and a loss, and will head on the road next Tuesday to face Wake FC before returning home Saturday, June 19th to face Tobacco Road FC at 7 PM inside TVA Credit Union Ballpark. Tickets are already on sale at ottersoccer.com for general admission or on-field seating!
Looking to generate a spark in the offense, the Otters shifted away from the 4–3–3 formation they had been using, to a 3–4–3 shape to create more advantages in the attack. Facing a previously unbeaten West Virginia United side, both teams battled early for control of the game. Following a hard foul on Danilo Seglio (Loyola Maryland), the Otters earned a corner and Tzabari was able to flick the low service by Ortiz over the keeper and into the goal for the 1–0 lead.
Just before the end of the first half, Tzabari forced a turnover in the midfield and made a charging run towards goal before playing in Seglio who blasted the ball home for a 2–0 lead at the break!
Despite playing with just three in the back, the group of Jan Gruhn (Shorter), Henrik Guenther (ETSU), and Sam Catherall (Gardner-Webb) silenced the West Virginia offense, winning aerial duels and breaking up any passes down the center of the park and instantly restarting the attack.
The Otters began the second half on the front foot, with Vinzent Zingel (CSU Pueblo) getting in behind the defense and playing a ball across to Seglio who scored again, before being called back for offsides. Seglio was dangerous all night, tying the Otters single-game record for shots with five in the match.
In the 63rd minute after winning the ball back from West Virginia, Gabriel Ramos (ETSU) passed the ball off to Ortiz who worked himself open and fired from 25-yards out for the 3–0 lead.
West Virginia’s best chance of the match came in the 69th minute when an attacker got 1-v-1 with goalkeeper Patrick Timmer (Fresno Pacific) who made the kick save to preserve the clean sheet for the Otters. Timmer finished the night with four saves.
From that point on the Otters kept the pressure on with substitutes Sonnie Mathis (Lincoln Memorial), Djibril Faye (Radford), and Izzy Garcia-Perez (UNC-Asheville), as well as debutants Lucas Lightner (ETSU) and Benjamin Grelet-Constantini (Ohio Valley). The Otters final chance of the night came in the 84th minute when Garcia-Perez took on his defender 1-v-1 before playing a slick back heel to Ramos who fired across goal but neither Lightner nor Faye were able to get a clean touch on it.
The Otters will look to build off this win as they travel to Holly Springs, North Carolina next week to take on Wake FC before returning home Saturday, June 19th to face Tobacco Road FC at 7 PM! Tickets are already on sale for that match HERE. The Otters annual youth soccer camp is also just two weeks away! From June 21st–24th learn directly from the Otters players and coaches. Players can register under EVENTS on ottersoccer.com! Be sure to follow Ottersoccer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on all things Otters this summer! #FearTheFur