The Otters closed out their second season in the PDL in mid-July after making major strides as an organization. Despite finishing in ninth, the Otters were able to improve in nearly every aspect as a franchise and position themselves for a very bright future in the Tri-Cities.
The biggest improvement came as a team on the field. The Otters were able to nearly double their point total in the divisional table. Picking up 11 points and winning three games after only winning one game in their inaugural season. As a team, the Otters also broke their record for assists (9), shots (131), and goals allowed (26) in a season.
The team is nothing without the players, and there were a number of players who were major contributors to the Otters this season!
In goal, Torge Wiedenroth (Reinhardt) and Carlos Rubio (Ohio Valley) leave this summer holding all of the Otters goalkeeping records. Rubio has the best goals against average by an Otters ‘keeper in franchise history with a 1.71 GAA after allowing only 12 goals (tied with Wiedenroth for the fewest in a season) over seven games. Rubio also has the second most saves in a single game, when he recorded nine against the West Virginia Chaos.
Wiedenroth turned a brilliant season in goal into a place atop SIX Otters records. He is tied for the most shutouts in a season with two, as well as being tied for the fewest goals allowed with Rubio. Wiedenroth broke the single-season saves record in the final game; recording 41 saves over the course of the season. Wiedenroth also has the record for save percentage (77.4%) and wins (2). Finally, Torge Wiedenroth was able to record ten saves in a game on two occasions, which is the most ever in a game.
In front of the goalie, the defensive backline was able to cause problems for opponents. Anchored by Alexis “Tato” Castillo (Wayland Baptist), the defense was near the top of the division in fewest goals allowed for the majority of the season before injuries and departures left the backline depleted in the final few games.
Castillo personally became the Otters all-time appearance and minutes leader, having played nearly 500 minutes more than any other Otter ever.
The Otters were often able to rely on the big boys in the middle to stifle anything that got past the defense. Ian Foulger (Lander), Sam Jenkins (Carson-Newman), Sam Amure (Carson-Newman), and Jeremy Tshongo (Appalachian State) were able to hold down the centerback spot all season, with at least one of them featuring in every single game. The centerbacks were also able to contribute on the offensive end, with Jenkins and Amure both recording a goal and an assist apiece this season.
Helping all over the formation, Sia “The Swedish Army Knife” Jamehdar played the third-most minutes of any player on the Otters and did so in a variety of positions. Jamehdar’s positional flexibility allowed the coaching staff to play him at left back, right back, centerback and defensive midfield throughout the season.
In the midfield, the Otters were able to constantly rely on three key players. Dion Stergiotis (Marshall), Mateo Garcés (Pfeiffer) and Alex Mitrovic (NW Nazarene) all played heavy minutes, finishing first, second, and fourth, respectively, in minutes played this season.
Stergiotis (13) and Garcés (12) also finished first and second in most games played in a season. The duo of Stergiotis and Garcés also finished first and second in most shots in a season with 22 and 20, respectively. Also, Stergiotis’ two assists are tied for the most in a season by an Otter. Garcés also made his mark, scoring four goals on the season, which is the second-most by an Otter.
Up top, the Otters were able to use a wide array of attackers to threaten the opposing teams’ backlines. Tresor Mbuyu (Liberty) missed the beginning of the season with injury, but was a dominant force in the second half of the season contributing three goals and two assists. He also recorded the fastest goal in Otters history, scoring seven seconds into the game against the West Virginia Chaos.
Henrique Cardoso (Montreat) was able to score a goal and add an assist from his position out on the wings and Conner Haney (John Brown) recorded two assists off of corner kicks to move into a three-way tie on the all-time assists list with Stergiotis and Mbuyu.
At home the Otters finished 3-2-2, thanks in large part to the continual turnout of fans and the loud atmosphere they helped create. For the second straight season the Otters averaged over 1,000 fans per game and had three of their four highest attended games come this season, behind only the Otters inaugural game last year.
Fan voting for the Otters end of season awards will begin next week, so be sure you follow Tri-Cities FC on Twitter and Facebook to get your voice heard! Thank you again to the fans for supporting your Tri-Cities FC Otters all season and remember, #FearTheFur!