The game started off fast and furious and evenly matched with each team controlling and mounting attacks. Myrtle Beach had three close range free kicks within the first 12 minutes, but the Chattanooga FC defense held strong. The game ebbed and flowed with each team having its chances until the 23rd minute when Myrtle Beach’s Cameron Burrows missed on a slide tackle just inside the box and Chattanooga forward Chris Ochieng scored a lower left shot on the ensuing PK. Myrtle Beach got close with two corner kicks only to be stopped again and again by goalkeeper Greg Hartley. One player from each squad was issued a yellow card in the first half.
The second half started off fast-paced with Chattanooga on the move, but both teams had equal chances. Myrtle Beach midfielders Brett Lucia and Aksel Juul broke through the stingy defense on many runs only to be stopped time and time again by the Chattanooga defense and goalkeeper Greg Hartley. The Chattanooga midfield lead by Leo DeSmedt, Luis Trude, and Jose Ferraz were always ready to attack. Chattanooga’s Samuel Goni broke the game open with a cross to Leo DeSmedt, who hammered home a hard shot for the second goal. Myrtle Beach had one brief defensive slip-up when an errant pass found a wide open Ochieng, who tried to chip it over goalkeeper Kenny Perkinson, but was denied. In the 77th minute Goni crossed the ball to open Chris Ochieng, who hammered home his second goal and seemingly putting the match out of reach.
Down 3-0, Myrtle Beach never gave up as substitutes RJ Bass intercepted a loose ball in the 82nd minute and got a shot finally past Hartley. One minute later, Myrtle Beach’s Bass assisted to a marked yet determined Noah Gulley for Myrtle Beach’s second goal just one minute later. The game’s pace really picked up from there with many shots on goal, but in the end Chattanooga’s defense prevailed and held strong to close out Myrtle Beach for the 3-2 victory.
“This was unbelievable, when Myrtle Beach brought in the big guy it made a difference,” Chattanooga FC goalkeeper stated. “Then we had to do what we needed to do.”
And in the end it was the solid goalkeeping by Hartley that made the ultimate difference.