Progress Report: Peachtree City Flying High After First Five Matches
Well, this is certainly uncharted territory for Peachtree City MOBA. Following abysmal starts to both 2016 and 2017, Peachtree City find themselves leaps and bounds ahead of where they were following the first third of the 2018 season. The offense is playing great, the defense is coming together, the midfield is as strong as it has ever been, and Omar Jarun has officially made this club into a threat within their division. There is still a lot of soccer left to be played this season, but one can only expect Peachtree City to continue to build off of this strong opening to the season.
After a 1-4-0 start to 2016 and a 0-4-1 start to 2017, Peachtree City have come out of the gates hot, boasting a 2-1-2 record on the back of a division-high thirteen goals scored. MOBA started off the season a little less than optimally with back-to-back 2-2 home draws against South Georgia Tormenta FC and Birmingham Hammers, both of which were blown 2-1 second half leads. Those draws were followed up with a heart-breaking 4-2 loss at home to SC United in a match that saw MOBA fight back from 2-0 down to level things at two before Ben Gilligan scored twice in the final minutes to steal away all three points. Despite the adversity, Peachtree City bounced right back as they began their first road trip of this season, taking all six points from their two matches with Memphis City FC. With nine matches remaining in the regular season, Peachtree City are in prime position to vie for a playoff spot, as they sit third in the division, three points back of Mississippi Brilla FC who have played one more match, and two points back of Tormenta who have played one less match. This season has been a season of firsts for MOBA, and that begs the question: why are the Yellow and Black playing so well?
There are plenty of reasons as to why Peachtree City find themselves where they are, arguably the most important of which has been coaching. For the first time, MOBA find themselves with stability at the managerial position, as seasoned veteran Omar Jarun has come in and established a culture within the locker room. Jarun's presence was doing a lot of work in the off-season, as having such an established name at the top helped draw a lot of very solid collegiate talent to Peachtree City. In fact, there is only one player that has played this season for Peachtree City that recorded any minutes in either 2016 or 2017: goalkeeper Jack Hudson, who only played in the second half of the season finale last year. Everybody else is a new face, and with that comes new beginnings. Under Jarun and his coaching staff, the abilities of every player has been highlighted and utilized, and it is getting results.
In terms of the results themselves, the development of the players and how they play together is miles ahead of where it has been in the past, as the communication, passing, and movement both on and off the ball has been nearly perfect. From the goalkeeper to the forwards, everybody seems to be on or getting on the same page, and it showed during the road trip to Memphis. Following disappointing results in their first three matches, things got flipped on their heads quickly, and all of the sudden, the holes in the team began to fill. In the first matchup between Peachtree City and Memphis, it was Memphis who jumped out to the early advantage, but it became evident moments later how the match would go. Everything Memphis did, Peachtree City had an answer for. After going down 1-0, Artur De Luca turned in Dean Foster's corner to make it 1-1. Memphis would score again to retake the lead, but just minutes later it was John Cozine whose diving header evened things up again. Peachtree City took their first lead of the match right before the half when Foster buried a beauty, however this time Memphis battled back and leveled things at three. The match seemed to be a deadlock of back and forth, but the MOBA men kept battling and were eventually rewarded when a handball in the eighty-first minute awarded Peachtree City a penalty kick, which De Luca buried to seal the 4-3 win. That result was quickly followed up by a very dominant performance two days later, when Konrad Dziedzic recorded MOBA's first clean sheet in two years. That solid goalkeeping performance was accompanied by another stellar offensive outing, as two goals from Shawn Sanon and a stunner from Chris Davis got Peachtree City their first win by more than one goal in club history.
The 2018 season has not only had solid performances on the pitch, but it has also seen a lot of club history being written. Following their opening five matches, Peachtree City have reached a number of notable milestones which include: most wins through first five matches, fewest losses through first five matches, most goals through first five matches, and most multi-goal scorers in a season. Peachtree City have also seen their goal differential go positive for the first time ever, as well as Dean Foster claiming the MOBA all-time assist record with four in just five appearances. MOBA have had three players be named to the TopDrawerSoccer Southern Conference Team of the Week (Dean Foster - Week 2, Jerren Nixon - Week 3, Shawn Sanon - Week 5), and Sanon also became the first MOBA player to ever be named to the PDL Team of the Week following his two-goal performance against Memphis City in Week 5. MOBA, as a team, made their first-ever appearance in the PDL Power Rankings in Week 5, debuting at fifth place in the Southern Conference behind Lakeland Tropics, Texas United, SIMA Aguilas, and The Villages SC. Already this season has been remarkable, and if it stopped now, it would definitely go down as the best season in club history. Thankfully, however, we aren't even halfway, and this club still has a lot left to accomplish, including potentially qualifying for the playoffs for the first time.