The South Atlantic Division was highly-competitive in 2017, with over half of the division's teams concluding the year with winning records.
The Myrtle Beach Mutiny finished on top of the division, winding up a solid four points clear of the second-place Charlotte Eagles. But it would be the Eagles who'd capture the ultimate prize this season, turning that second playoff spot into the 2017 PDL Championship.
They were followed up by the Nashville SC U23, South Georgia Tormenta FC, SC United Bantams, Tobacco Road FC, North Carolina FC U23, Wilmington Hammerheads FC, Tri-Cities Otters, Carolina Dynamo, and Peachtree City MOBA.
Here's a closer look at the South Atlantic Division's Season in Review.
Photo by Carolina Dynamo
Record: 2-10-2, -15 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 10th
MVP: Daniel Elliot - 7 goals, 1 assist
The Carolina Dynamo struggled through a difficult season in 2017, as the team was able to win only two matches, though it stayed competitive with plenty of matches being decided by just one goal. Offensively, the team was stronger than its record indicated, with 19 goals ranking more mid-table than their actual position. Defensively, the team had a more difficult time, allowing a next-to-last 34 goals over its 14 matches. This issue became apparent early, as the team started the season on a three-match losing streak before earning its first win and draw of the year in its two subsequent matches. It would take a second win just a few weeks later with a high point 4-1 win over the Wilmington Hammerheads on June 17. Unfortunately, the team would drop five of its last six matches, and the Dynamo would miss playoff contention by a considerable margin. A pair of bright spots existed on the offensive end, as Daniel Elliot was able to snag seven goals and one assist over 13 matches this year, followed closely by Jon Bakero with five goals of his own. Ebenezer Kudolo led the team in assists with three, while also scoring a goal of his own. In goal, it was a tough time for Ryan Cretens, who posted a 2.17 GAA over his 12 starts, with Alec Smir fairing slightly better in his two matches in net.
Photo by Charlotte Eagles
Record: 9-3-2, +16 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 2nd
Playoffs: 2017 PDL Champions
MVP: Joao Costa - 11 goals, 2 assists
It gets no better than the Charlotte Eagles 2017 season, as despite finishing 2nd in their division, the team went on to run the table in the playoffs and emerge as the 2017 PDL Champions. The Eagles started the year strong, winning their first three consecutively and six of their first eight overall, but suddenly found themselves at risk of missing the playoffs entirely after going winless in their next three matches. Sitting in fourth at the time, the Eagles pulled it together and won their final three matches to narrowly edge out Nashville SC U23 by a single point to earn a playoff berth. The Eagles didn’t waste the opportunity, knocking off the Seacoast United Phantoms, 4-1, and the Long Island Rough Riders in penalties to win the Eastern Conference title. They followed that up with a 3-1 win over Mississippi Brilla FC before taking down the Thunder Bay Chill in the final to cement themselves as PDL champions. The team was strong offensively, with Joao Costa leading the way with 11 goals and two assists. Kelvin Omondi also contributed eight goals and two assist, with Ryan Williams holding a team-leading four assists and four goals of his own. Defensively, the team excelled, allowing a division-low 14 goals all year. James Pyle was a wall in goal, posting a 0.71 GAA, with Humberto Pelaez also putting up a strong 1.33 GAA. But it was Douglas Oliveira who was the key defensive component for the Eagles, playing every single minute of the regular season and postseason for the Eagles, shutting down opponents from start to finish while even finding a goal of his own.
Photo by Myrtle Beach Mutiny
Record: 10-1-3, +19 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 1st
Playoffs: Lost in Eastern Conference Semifinals
MVP: Tobenna Uzo - 13 goals, 3 assists
The Myrtle Beach Mutiny may have been knocked out of the playoffs earlier than they would’ve liked, but they’ve still got a division crown to hang their hats on as they finished atop the South Atlantic Division in 2017. The team started out the season in an inconsistent fashion, with a 3-1-2 record in their first six matches, but quickly found their form over the second half of the year, going 7-0-1 over their final eight to finish above the pack, including a six-match win streak from June 18 to July 5. The team was more than competent defensively, with its goalkeeper-by-committee style producing a solid wall in front of net, as David Garcia got the most time and posted a solid 1.47 GAA. It was offensively that the team made its presence felt, leading the division with 28 goals this season. At the front of that charge was Tobenna Uzo, who led the team in both goals and assists with 13 and three respectively. Uzo built upon that success and exemplified the path to professionalism by earning a professional contract with the USL’s Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC after the conclusion of the Mutiny’s season.
Photo by Nashville SC U23
Record: 8-2-4, +16 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 3rd
MVP: Martim Galvao - 7 goals, 4 assists
It was a spectacular debut season for Nashville SC U23, as they finished third in the ridiculously difficult South Atlantic Division, narrowly missing out on a playoff spot by a single point. The team earned a dream start to their PDL tenure, with five straight wins to open their season slate. Unfortunately, the team would slow down in that tough middle-of-the-season slog, going winless with a 0-2-3 record over their middle five matches. They’d pick it back up to close the year, winning three of their last four, but it just wasn’t enough to hold off the eventual-PDL champion Charlotte Eagles for the second and final playoff spot. The team was strong offensively and defensively, posting a very good +16 goal differential with the second-best scoring and third-best defensive marks in the division. In net, William Pyle and Chris Zappia split time in net fairly evenly, with Zappia posting an incredible 0.81 GAA and Pyle not far behind at 1.76. Offensively, goals were split evenly with four players scoring over four goals, including Martim Galvao with a team-leading seven goals and four assists, Blake Wilson with five goals and four assists, and Shakeem Adams and Logan Paynter knocking in four apiece.
Photo by North Carolina FC U23
Record: 5-7-2, -7 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 7th
MVP: Ryan Spaulding - 5 goals, 1 assist
The season started well for North Carolina FC U23, but streakiness ultimately proved to be the team’s undoing as they couldn’t find the consistency needed to push towards the playoff spaces. North Carolina went unbeaten in its opening three matches, going 2-0-1, but then fell into a three-match bog with two losses and a draw. The team got hot again in subsequent weeks, winning three of four to get back on winning track, but the final four matches of the year marked a downward turn in form as the team found themselves on the losing ends of all four. The team was a bit lacking on the offensive end, scoring just 22 goals over the course of the year, but defensively was stout and held opposition to 29 goals against. In goal, Ignacio Miras Blanco featured the most, posting a respectable 1.60 GAA, with Vincent Durand and Will Pulisic splitting the remaining time and struggling with GAAs of over 2.0 each. In attack, the team relied on a few key playmakers for most of its production. Ryan Spaulding led the way with a team-high five goals and one assist, followed closely by Dean Rutherford, with four goals and an assist, and Damieon Thomas’ three goals.
Photo by Peachtree City MOBA
Record: 2-10-2, -19 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 11th
MVP: Todd Fidler - 3 goals, 1 assist
Peachtree City MOBA had a difficult 2017 right from the offset, as the team couldn’t pick up their first win until over a month into the season. Peachtree City went winless the first half of the season, picking up a lone draw amid six losses, leaving them with a single point. They’d improve markedly in the second half of the year, winning two of three to begin their final seven matches, but would ultimately go 0-3-1 in their last four to close out a tough schedule. The team found themselves on the wrong end of shutouts five times over their 14 matches, and only recorded two-plus goals four times. What offense they could produce was spread out among a few players, with Todd Fidler’s three goals and one assist and Edmundo Robinson’s four goals leading the way. Two goals also came from each of Daniel Valenciano, Santiago Moore Moreno and Matthew Wooling. Defensively the team struggled as well, though William Meyer, who split the most minutes in goal, put up a respectable 1.80 GAA. Things were unfortunately more difficult for Nick Nelson and Luke Oesterle, who posted GAAs of 2.60 and 3.14 respectively.
Photo by SC United Bantams
Record: 6-4-4, -1 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 5th
MVP: Leandro Browne - 3 goals, 2 assists
In a very difficult South Atlantic Division, SC United Bantams put together a respectable, winning season that left them in the middle of the standings at the end of the year. The Bantams opened well, winning two of their first three, including a 4-2 victory over South Georgia Tormenta FC that stood as their second-largest margin of victory this season. Unfortunately, the one thing that the Bantams found themselves lacking was consistency, as they’d spread out two more wins over their next nine matches, posting a 2-3-4 record over that span. They’d close out the year by finally winning two consecutive matches, taking down Tri-Cities Otters and Peachtree City MOBA. The Bantams were a bit lackluster on the offensive end, with their 20 goals scored ranking eighth in the division. However, that didn’t stop Jordan Walshaw from tallying a team-leading five goals, or Leandro Browne bagging three and picking up two assists, and Harrison Roberts, who knocked in three as well. Defensively, however, the team was stout, allowing only 21 goals. A huge part of those efforts came from Ian McGrane, who started nine matches in net and posted a fantastic 1.00 GAA while making a team-leading 41 saves.
Photo by South Georgia Tormenta FC
Record: 7-3-4, +17 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 4th
MVP: Jamie Merriam - 9 goals, 2 assists
South Georgia Tormenta FC started slow in 2017, and that slow start unfortunately cost them a shot at the playoffs this season. The team finished four points off of the second-place Charlotte Eagles and the final playoff spot, and going their first four without a win is a big reason why. Tormenta FC managed just two points from those four matches, draws against Myrtle Beach and Peachtree City, while dropping all three against Nashville SC U23 and SC United Bantams. The dropped points sting all the more because, over their last ten matches, Tormenta FC had a case as the hottest team in the entire PDL. The team would post a ridiculous 7-1-2 record over their remaining ten matches, demolishing their competition en route to a fourth-place finish. Their statistics show their dominance, ranking second in the division both offensively and defensively in goals scored and allowed. Leading the charge was Jamie Merriam, who recorded nine goals and two assists for the team, followed closely by Sam Lofts with five goals as well. Another four players recorded four goals apiece, showing the deep nature of the team’s attack. In goal, Keegan Meyer and Matthew Rosenberg split time, with the latter posting an absurd 0.57 GAA in his seven matches in net.
Photo by Tobacco Road FC
Record: 6-5-3, +3 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 6th
MVP: Jonathan Ray - 6 goals, 4 assists
Tobacco Road FC finished exactly on the midway line of the South Atlantic Division in 2017, but brought the number of teams finishing with a winning record to six, more than half of all teams participating. Tobacco Road started a bit slow, with a 1-3-1 record in their first five matches, but what rapidly pick it up from that point on. In their final nine matches of the season, the team would post an impressive 5-2-2 record, including a win over the eventual-PDL champion Charlotte Eagles. While the team struggled slightly defensively, allowing 31 goals, they were one of the better teams in the division in attack. Leading the offense in assists, Jonathan Ray tallied four helpers while finishing off six goals of his own to contribute to a third of his team’s offensive output. Nils Bruening was his primary beneficiary, scoring eight goals, while Thomas Garner also benefited, scoring four. In net, it was a harder season for Samuel Bissett and John Hawthorne, who both posted GAAs of over 2.00.
Photo by Tri-Cities Otters
Record: 3-9-2, -16 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 9th
MVP: Mateo Garces - 4 goals
The Tri-Cities Otters began the season slowly, losing in shutouts in their first three matches, foreshadowing issues offensively that would plague the team in 2017. They’d finally break free of that struggle in their fourth match of the year, a win over Peachtree City MOBA, and would subsequently go the next three matches unbeaten, including a second win over Peachtree City MOBA. Unfortunately, the team’s offensive struggles would rear its head again, as they’d go 1-6-0 the rest of the year while failing to score more than one goal in any of those seven matches. Ultimately, the team would score two or more goals only twice, leading to a tough year. While the team did have its offensive issues, a pair of bright spots took center stage in Mateo Garces, who led the team with four goals, and Tresor Mbuyu who closely followed with three. The team was actually very strong defensively, however, allowing only 26 goals, good for sixth-best in the division. Torge Wiedenroth and Carlos Rubio were solid in goal, splitting most of the time and only allowing 12 goals apiece.
Photo by Wilmington Hammerheads
Record: 3-8-3, -15 GD
South Atlantic Division Finish: 8th
MVP: Tanner Roberts - 6 goals
The Wilmington Hammerheads didn’t start perfectly, with one win and two losses in their first three matches, but unfortunately the season fell off-track in the grueling middle stretch. From June 5 to June 24, the team went winless in seven matches, posting a 0-5-2 record and knocking the Hammerheads well out of playoff contention. They’d rebound over their final four matches, as they’d go 2-1-1 and pick up the majority of their points in the season. They closed on a positive note as well, earning a season-high 4-2 victory over the Carolina Dynamo on the road. Good offensive production was one of the stories of the season for the Hammerheads, as their 28 goals were sixth-best in the division. Tanner Roberts led the team’s efforts going forward, scoring six goals, with Clayton Sparks’ five goals and two assists and William Heaney’s four goals following closely behind. Defensively though, the team struggled, giving up a division-worst 43 goals in 2017. Andrew Romig played most matches in goal, allowing a 2.75 GAA, with Samuel WIlliams taking the remainder of time in net.
Tag(s): NEWS Features #PATH2PRO Eastern Conference South Atlantic Division North Carolina Fusion U23 Charlotte Eagles Peachtree City MOBA SC United Bantams South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 Tri-Cities Otters Myrtle Beach Mutiny Tobacco Road FC Nashville SC U23 North Carolina FC U23 Wilmington Hammerheads FC