MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE
The third weekend of the National Premier Soccer League’s Southeast Conference saw plenty of travel for some clubs, as four different clubs played in back-to-back nights, with Chattanooga FC and Knoxville Force playing both matches on the road.
Friday saw two fixtures as the Georgia Revolution (1-2-0) kicked the weekend off at home against the high-flying Nashville FC (3-0-1). Nashville came off the previous weekend holding Chattanooga FC to a scoreless draw in Chattanooga. The Revs had beaten Knoxville the previous match and were looking to string consecutive wins together for the first time in 2014.
Nashville, however, would score first as Matthew Reed gobbled up a rebound for his first of the year just before the half an hour mark. NFC pushed for their second and were rewarded early in the second half, as Alan O’Connor muscled his way through a defender and beat the Revs keeper for a comfortable 2-0 lead with 52 minutes gone.
The Revs then hit back just three minutes later as Luigi Clendening tapped in a rebound that fell to his foot and notched the goal. Nashville would have to sub in Ben Jones on the 78th minute, as Elliot Goodwin pulled up with an injury while dribbling. As fate would have it, Jones would connect just a few minutes later (84th), and headed home the unmatchable goal. The Revs would fall 3-1 as they host Pensacola City FC next Friday (May 30).
Rocket City United (2-1-0) played their only match of the weekend, hosting the Knoxville Force (0-3-1). Rocket City was looking for their second win in a row at home and Knoxville was looking for their first point of the season.
Much like RCU’s match against Pensacola City FC’s last week in Huntsville, United scored late to give them the three points. A Juan Hernandez free kick in the 89th minute was headed into the goal by Knoxville’s Ryan Creel. The match had been even to that point as Knoxville had opened the game with a Yazeed Davids goal just a quarter of an hour in. Patrick Huang scored his first goal of the year for United in the 41st minute as he drilled home a rebound to equalize.
Rocket City have now won their last two straight matches at home and head to the capital of Tennessee to face NFC on Saturday (May 31).
As for Nashville FC, their party did not start until Saturday night, as they headed home for their first ever home match, hosting the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves (1-1-1). The Silverbacks only managed a 1-1 draw against the New Orleans Jesters the weekend before.
Atlanta had Nashville gasping, as the Silverbacks scored early on a deflection, but the forward that deflected it was offside and Nashville was able to remain calm in their opener. After that short worry, there was no hangover from the night before as Nashville controlled the tempo.
Kevin Tikhomiroff will go down as the trivia question of “Who scored first at home for Nashville FC,” as he bobbed and weaved through traffic in the 40th minute. His shot from 20 yards out took the perfect deflection of a Silverbacks defender and as Atlanta goalie, Brad Sienkiewicz, went to his left, the ball rolled to the right-hand side of the goal.
Just a few minutes later, Ben Jones copied his form from the night before and was on the end of a perfect cross for his second in as many nights. Jones just snuck behind the sleeping Atlanta defense and bounced the ball past Sienkiewicz for the Nashville 2-0 advantage.
Luke Gearin (also unmarked) tipped a Tikhomiroff 20-yard free kick from the left side of the box into the net to seal the win for Nashville. With that goal, Nashville became the first team in the Southeast Conference to score ten goals on the year. More excitement was to follow, as Nashville keeper Rumwald Le Guevel (a native of Rennes, France) stopped an Atlanta penalty kick, but could not keep the clean sheet, as Mario Oliveiera slipped in a loose ball in the box just minutes later.
The Silverbacks have now won, lost, and drawn a game this year and return to Atlanta to take on the New Orleans Jesters on Saturday (May 31).
From one exciting fixture to the next, as the New Orleans Jesters (1-0-1) concluded their two game home stand against Chattanooga FC (2-1-1). Chattanooga had to play their cards right, since they had this fixture on Saturday, a three hour drive to Florida, then a midday match with Pensacola City FC on Sunday before they host the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League (NASL) Wednesday night in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Chattanooga had a few chances at Pan American Park before Leo De Smedt collected a long, cross field pass and easily beat Andrew Tarbell for the first goal of the night just five minutes in. It looked like the Jesters were concerned with the CFC forward in the middle of the field and thought De Schmidt was offside.
New Orleans would find their equalizer in the 40th minute, as they were rewarded with a penalty. A cross came in from the left side and the Jesters’ forward received a knock to the head, but was rewarded with a penalty which Reece Wilson converted for the equalizer. CFC would regain the lead just a few minutes later as Thibault Charmey scored on a nearly impossible angle from the left side, but got the fortuitous bounce off the Jesters’ defense to score.
Two unanswered New Orleans goals would follow as Keir Hannity scored in the 61st with a nice diving header into the right corner and substitute Caio Cruz completed the comeback win. With a long ball played down the right hand side, the Jesters were able to pull Tarbell out of his net and Cruz was open to power in the game winner.
Pensacola City FC (1-1-0) hosted the Knoxville Force for the first of two home matches over the weekend. With the Force playing the night before over five hours away, they were hard pressed when Pensacola hit them early with a Dillon Gallet goal just five minutes into the match.
The visitors would equalized in the 71st minute as Tom Moody hit his second of the season and helped get Knoxville their first point of the year. After the long road trip for the Knoxvillians, the team will now play four straight at Regal Stadium (starting with Chattanooga on Saturday May 31st). Their next away match is not until the 20th of June.
PCFC had one more match on the weekend, as they hosted Chattanooga FC on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in west Florida. Chattanooga pulled ahead just 11 minutes into the match and could not be caught from that point on.
With the win on Sunday, CFC reach seven points, just three behind Nashville FC, who sit on top of the table. Rocket City United have six with the two wins at home and Atlanta Silverbacks and New Orleans Jesters are even with four points. The Revolution couldn’t add to their three points and Pensacola City FC and Knoxville find their first point of the year to round out the Southeast Conference.