The Knoxville Force had their last regular season game at Sansom Sports Complex against undefeated Chattanooga FC on July 5th. Knoxville and Chattanooga both had a great turnout of fans tonight, creating an exciting atmosphere. Despite the loss, finishing fourth in the Southeast conference is a great success for the Force and means that the team will be playing in the postseason tournament that starts this weekend.
The Force struggled against Chattanooga in the beginning of the game. In just the second minute of play, Luke Winter dribbled around a few Force defenders and scored the first goal of the night after a shot to the near post. His goal was assisted by Samuel Goni.
For the next 20 minutes, Chattanooga continued to dominate the game and show why they are undefeated this season. They played high and heavy pressure on the Force, creating many turnovers. It was apparent that the Force might have been a bit frantic and unsure of how to deal with this pressure. However, by the thirty-minute mark, the Force players started to settle in and got more looks on goal. The best chance for the Force in the first half came in the 40th minute. Ryan Creel made a perfect run to get on the end of a ball crossing through Chattanooga’s goalie box, but his final touch was just off target. The half ended with Chattanooga up by one goal.
The second half was unkind to the Force. An own goal in the 55th minute was scored by Force defender Vamuyan Sheriff. Ryan Jorgensen, the Force’s goalkeeper, made a spectacular save to stop Chattanooga’s attack, but his save deflected off Sheriff who was not able to get to the ball in time to stop it from going into the goal.
Three minutes later, Chattanooga scored again off a rebound. In the 58th minute, Jorgensen once again made an impressive save, but Chattanooga’s Juan Hernandez Mendizabal was able to get to the rebound and headed it into the goal. Jon Finlay was given the assist.
The Force played hard and aggressive for the rest of the game. The players never gave up, but the team was not able to recover from a three-goal deficit. The Force next in the Southeast Conference tournament on Friday, July 8 in a rematch against Chattanooga at Finley Stadium.