The Chattanooga Lady Red Wolves welcomed North Alabama SC to the first ever women's Premier Soccer League match at the new CHI Memorial Stadium. As a thank you gift for showing up for the special occasion the Red Wolves sent NASC home with a 4-0 thumping.
Before the match the question was whether the Red Wolves would score the first competitive goal in their new stadium. After just a few minutes it became clear the better question was which Red Wolf would score it first.
The Red Wolves were all over North Alabama in the opening minutes and midfielder Sinoxolo Cesane was the first to test the NASC goalie.
The South African put a shot on goal in the fourth minute and then created an even better chance two minutes later, but both attempts were saved.
Suzuho Yamasaki finally answered the question in the eighth minute by scoring off a fantastically worked give and go with striker Hannah Tillet. The combination passing between Yamasaki and Tillet sent the NASC defenders spinning and Yamasaki made a historic goal look easy.
Ten minutes later the Japanese midfielder and the Indiana native striker connected again for the second ever goal at CHI Memorial. This time Tillet danced the ball into the six-yard box before sending it back out to a crashing Yamasaki to go up 2-0.
“It all starts from really great passing,” Yamasaki, who played for Martin Methodist College before joining the Lady Red Wolves, said about her two goals. “The game in America is so fast and physical, but I try to have an impact with my technique.”
The Lady Red Wolves walked into the locker room at halftime up 2-0 and Head Coach Luke Winter walked back onto the field quickly after that. The short halftime tune-up must have worked because the Red Wolves scored just seconds into the second half.
This time it was local left-wing talent Summer Hernandez scoring off an assist from Maggie Shaw. Hernandez, from Soddy Daisy, received a great pass close to goal from Shaw; she then turned sharply and passed the ball into the back of the net.
Hannah Tillet was rewarded in the 66th minute for her hard work early in the game. NASC was struggling to get the ball clear and it eventually fell to the feet of Tillet just outside the 18-yard box. Tillet shifted past one defender then blasted the ball into the side netting; the NASC keeper never stood a chance.
“It’s an impressive stadium and it can be a bit intimidating,” Coach Winter said about his side’s first home match. “But the girls embraced it and they’ll have confidence every time they come back here now.”
“If you look at the score 4-0 you’d think we dominated, but I don’t think we did.” Coach Winter said. “If we’d been more clinical we could’ve scored 7 or 8, we haven’t had much practice time, this was just our skill.”
The home opener wasn’t all good news for the Lady Red Wolves. Central defender Brittany Morgan suffered what appeared to be a serious injury late in the match and had to be helped off the field.
The Lady Red Wolves next match will be at CHI Memorial Stadium against Peachtree City Friday at 7 p.m.
Lady Red Wolves: 4 Yamasaki (8’ 22’), Hernandez (46’), Tillet (66’)
North Alabama SC: 0