In a short season bereft of luck, the Chattanooga Football Club finally had some good fortune fall their way. Of course, luck wasn’t the only thing falling during the night. The 1-1 draw against the Michigan Stars was defined by unending rain, never-ending delays, and staunch defense by the pipes.
Amidst a horrendous downpour reminiscent of the days of Noah, Joao Costa equalized the score after a defensive breakdown by Michigan.
Or perhaps crediting Costa for the goal is misleading. While Costa was given the goal, it appeared to be at least somewhat kicked in by a Michigan player, who may have been trying to clear the ball.
Regardless of who scored, a point was given to Chattanooga, which is really all that mattered in the stop-and-start match. CFC needed every bit of good fortune they could get, with the previous few minutes being a prime example of nothing going a team’s way.
Michigan struck early, courtesy of Steven Juncaj and some lackluster defending by Chattanooga. After a Michigan forward was able to weave through the back four, he made space and fired a volley at the net. Phil D’Amico bashed away this shot, but was unable to secure it. The deflection went straight to Juncaj, who scored one of the easiest goals of his life and put his team up 1-0.
In the 16th minute, the skies looked clear and the sunset beautiful, but the game was still stopped because of a lightning delay. While the skies were sunny to start, it was only a matter of time before the storms made their fashionably late appearance, delaying the match for slightly under an hour. The Chattahooligans found creative ways to entertain themselves, including holding an impromptu parade in the stadium concourse.
When play resumed, Chattanooga appeared snake bitten. After a free kick passed in, a slick pass was shot through the defense, and a mad scramble for the ball ensued. Chattanooga got not one, but two cracks at scoring. Neither shot went in, but both doinked off of the pipes—one off of the right post and the other off the left post. Chattanooga even tried to force the goalkeeper himself into the net in an attempt to score, to no avail.
By this point, the black skies were unloading sheets of water onto Finley Stadium. Shortly after Costa’s opportunistic score, the lightning joined the rain, and the game entered yet another delay, this time lasting a little under an hour. Chattanooga’s fans kept themselves occupied using a variety of methods. A batch of children “sled” themselves down the hill by the scoreboard, while a couple of slightly older gentlemen ran a small tractor through the puddles by the stadium entrance.
Play resumed, and nothing of note happened until halftime. Calling it halftime almost feels like an exaggeration, since the break only lasted five minutes. After the briefest of respites, the teams shuffled themselves back onto the pitch and began a rather disjointed second half. It was a scoreless one, defined by fruitless CFC counterattacks that materialized into nothing.
The 76th minute was the only time when Chattanooga seriously threatened Michigan. A perfect cross from Caleb Cole found Zeca’s head. Zeca’s head then flicked it goalward, and a score seemed inevitable. But in a sport like soccer, nothing is inevitable. The ball flew right into the top crossbar, and for the third time in the match, Chattanooga’s sure score was stopped by an inanimate object.
The last 15 or so minutes passed without incident, as neither team could muster a serious offense and the ball died in the midfield on most possessions. Chattanooga has a shot at getting their first win of the NISA season next week when they play Napa Valley FC in California.
There is a zero percent chance of rain.