CHATTANOOGA, TN – July 12, 2014 – Two Chattanooga FC goals within the first half an hour and two second half goals sealed CFC’s Southeast Conference title Saturday night in a feisty 4-0 match against the New Orleans Jesters at Finley Stadium.
Goals came from Luke Winter (13’), Sias Reyneke (26’), Leo De Smedt (69’) Luis Trude (79’). Winter collected the game’s only red card in the 60th minute as both teams were involved in a very physical championship showdown.
“We faced a lot of adversity tonight,” Chattanooga FC head coach Bill Elliott said of the win. “We had a penalty call against us, a red card call against us, a little bit of rain coming down. We were at home, but probably the most adverse conditions for being at home. ”
He added, “I’m just really proud the way our guys played.”
New Orleans muscled their way into the Championship Friday with a 4-1 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves and Chattanooga beat NPSL newcomers Nashville FC 6-1.
“We could not attract the players that we do and get the fans to come if the organization wasn’t as solid as it is,” Elliot added. “Who wouldn’t want to play in front of these fans?”
From the get-go Chattanooga pressed for the first goal as the home supporters, the Chattahooligans, cheered them on.
The home team got on the board in the 13th minute when Luke Winter headed in the opening goal after Chattanooga won a free kick. John Carrier dropped in the free kick and Winter was left unattended in the Jesters’ box and easily beat the Jesters’ keeper Larry Newby.
In the 26th minute, CFC doubled their advantage and when Sias Reyneke got the pass in stride from Winter, beat the New Orleans’ keeper for the two goal advantage. New Orleans were arguing that there was a foul as Reyeneke made his run, but there was no call and the advantage stood.
“Chattanooga is probably one of the best organized defensive teams in the league,” Jesters’ head coach Kenny Farrell said of the two goals. “If you don’t attack the ball, like we didn’t, you open up the game for them to score. We didn’t get into a rhythm; they scored two (first half) goals on counterattacks.”
Just a minute later, the Jesters won a penalty kick and Jesters’ captain Reece Wilson stepped up to the spot, but the shot was saved by CFC’s Greg Hartley fingertips, then bounced off the bar and was cleared. That missed opportunity was the last goal scoring opportunity for either club in the half.
“I thought for sure I was going to my left, (Reece’s) hips were still open, and I knew we wasn’t going to go low, things happen, you get a fingertip on it and the crossbar saved me,” Hartley said of the save.
During the half, the clouds opened and as both teams were greeted to pounding rain and made the second half a bit more interesting, but had subsided quickly as the game restarted.
“I was a bit nervous at the half,” Hartley said. “I knew we needed a few more goals because this is a team that can come back on you. We knew they were one of the best sides in this conference. They played unbelievable all season, they have an incredible team.”
Winter would not be able to contribute in the final half an hour, as he was handed a straight red for a little extracurricular activity.
In the 69th minute, Chattanooga FC sealed up the win, as substitute Leo De Smedt rocketed a shot from the keeper’s right side that beat the keeper on a short angle into the top of the net. 3-0 for the home side and they were all but home with the championship.
“They were bad goals on our part, but good goals on theirs,” Farrell added.
Finally, Chattanooga would not let their foot off the pedal as a fourth goal came in the 80th minute as Luis Trude put home a volley that floated over a terribly positioned Jesters’ keeper Newby and brought the Championship back to Tennessee.
“We have so many different people that can score,” Elliott added. “I think that we are just so difficult to play against, goals are coming from different people on this team, we had four different scorers tonight.”
Now Chattanooga FC moves on to the Regional Semifinals, to represent the Southeast Conference in the South Region of play.