If the game of soccer were but six minutes long, the Red Wolves would have been crowned victors after Greg Hurst banged in a penalty kick a little over five minutes into their eventual 1-1 draw with the colorful Forward Madison. But after this bright start to the game, the Red Wolves’ performance degraded into familiar form for the other 84 minutes, failing to finish off chances when presented with them.
“We didn’t take our chances,” said star winger Greg Hurst.
“I had one that I know I should’ve scored and I missed. I thought we dominated the game in the first half, and all the boys are devastated we couldn’t find that second goal.”
The Flamingos did not buckle under the pressure generated by Chattanooga’s attack, with Madison defenders such as Barriga Toyama and central defender Diaz calmly dealing with long passes from the midfield. Central defender Fernandes was a massive presence, both literally and figuratively, in the air after coming in as a sub in the second half. The bulky defender threatened Chattanooga on slightly-errant headers and deflected a the home team’s as well.
In a game featuring four yellow cards and even more uncalled fouls, both teams had to deal with physical play all afternoon. Madison’s Michael Vang used his speed and guile to sweep along the left wing for a goal to equalize the match. Meanwhile, Hurst fought through the contact in the 80th minute and found himself one-on-one with the keeper following a beautiful long pass.
This was Chattanooga’s best chance at winning the game, and all Hurst needed to do was beat Forward Madison’s keeper. But the 16 year-old keeper was not rattled by the Scottish striker’s presence, and used his foot to deflect Hurst’s attempt.
“It’s just about going back to practice and working on how confident we are after going up 1-0,” Hurst said. “Usually, when we go up 1-0, the performance dips a little bit. We need to get used to being in that position.”
Even though the Red Wolves’ seemingly dominated the match for the majority of the breezy Saturday afternoon, their one-slip up in the 60th minute only emphasized their scoring woes.
“It starts from the back, defending well and then getting it into the midfield, and then into the final third,” said defender Caleb Ricketts. “And then being bold in there. We had the chances to score the second, third, and even fourth goals.”
The Red Wolves play their last game of the season next week, when they visit Richmond. A Chattanooga win would keep their playoff hopes alive, while a loss would signal the start of the Red Wolves’ second offseason of 2020.
Joseph Aaron Dycus