At the halfway point of the 2019 USL League Two season, the Otters find themselves in second place in the South Atlantic Division. The Otters have accumulated 14 points through seven games and are one point back of the first-place team. The Otters also have played the fewest games and are averaging the most points per game in the division, while also having scored the second-most goals and conceded the fewest. This start is due in large part to fantastic individual and team performances as well as an important tactical change by the coaches to a 3-5-2 formation.
In goal, Carlos Rubio (Lenoir-Rhyne) has been out to break records in his second stint with the Otters and he has done just that. Besides making big saves and winning Save of the Week for the league in Week 5, Rubio has kept the Otters in games with huge performances between the pipes. He had back-to-back nine save games, good for second most in a single game, and his 62 career saves moved him into first all-time for the Otters. Rubio also recorded his first ever shutout for the Otters and his four wins are just one win away from being tied for first. His save percentage (.765) and GAA (1.48) continue to move up the Otters ranks as well as he sits first and second, respectively in those categories.
Tim Trilk (Western Illinois) has set some bests of his own in goal so far too. In his two appearances, he has recorded his first shutout and win with the Otters, when they blanked the NCFC U-23s (the team currently in first place) 2-0 on June 4th. Trilk also made a sub appearance and allowed no goals in his 15-minute stint against Tobacco Road. His career goals against average is now down to 2.23, which is fourth-best in Otters history.
The backline has also played well this season, only allowing seven goals in seven games, which is on pace to be the Otters best ever goals allowed mark by a healthy margin. The back line of Merveil Bilomba (ETSU), George Stanley (Montreat), and Blake Barribeau (Palm Beach Atlantic) have led the line the last four games, only allowing three goals in that stretch.
Barribeau has continued to be a stalwart defensively, leading the team in minutes so far this season, while also wearing the captain’s armband. In last Saturday’s match, Barribeau surpassed Alexis Castillo for the most minutes played in Otters history. He also is now second all-time in total games played with 19 for the Otters over his two seasons.
Stanley is also is in his second season, and fresh off being named to USL League Two’s Team of the Week has been key to stopping attacks 1-v-1 as the last man on defense. Stanley has also moved into the top-five in games played with 17 appearances and is fifth in minutes at 1,298.
James Scasserra (Palm Beach Atlantic) is just outside the top five in appearances with 15 total so far, and is likely to eclipse the 1,000 minute mark for his career with the Otters.
The Otters midfield has seen several players dominate throughout the season. Matheus Tonon (Palm Beach Atlantic) and Oscar Perez (Wingate) have split minutes at defensive midfield. Perez, serving as the Otters other captain, is tied with Barribeau at 19 appearances, and his 1,372 minutes are good for fourth all-time.
Stuart Hendry (Wingate) has contributed on both sides of the ball, scoring his first goal on Tuesday. Hendry’s two assists this season also have him sitting fifth in the team rankings.
Ahead of Hendry on the assist list is Alex Horveno (Lynn), who has already recorded four assists on the season, good for second-most behind only Mehdi Chtara’s five last year. Horveno also is tied for first on the team in shots with eleven.
On the other wing, Taylor Gray (Reinhardt) has been on one of, if not the best streak in Otters history. He has scored in five straight games, the longest in Otters history and the current longest active streak in League Two. His five goals are already good for third-most in a season, and his 13 career points is second-most for an Otter. He also now tops the career shots chart with thirty and is tied with Perez and Barribeau at 19 appearances.
One last record-breaking performer has been forward Pol Vassart (Lees-McRae) who has put his stamp on the team in just three appearances. Vassart has scored two goals and added another two assists. His brace on Tuesday was only the third in Otters history not by someone named Guillermo Segovia.
As a team, the Otters are one win away from matching last season’s record 17 points. They have also scored their second-most goals in a game with four and set a new single-game shot record with 24 shots against Tobacco Road FC.
Your Otters will finish their homestand tomorrow night against Virginia Beach United with a chance to go into first place for the first time ever with a win. Kickoff is set for 7 PM at Kermit-Tipton Stadium on the campus of Science Hill High School. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased HERE or at the gate. All fans 16 years old and younger will get in FREE! #FearTheFur