What’s better than one great soccer match? Two of them in a row! Chattanooga FC’s women played a highly-contested 2-1 defeat to Alabama FC in the afternoon, and then the CFC men took down Syracuse in the second game 3-0.
Jacqueline ‘Jackie’ Montes established herself in the box as a solid target on the corner kick in the first game. A minute into the second half, she turned that strong position into a CFC goal on a set piece. It was a shot in the arm for a CFC side that had surrendered a pair of goals to Alabama FC in a scorching first half.
“The whole thing with the second half was that we needed to be smarter about how we were defending,” coach Randy Douglas said.
“Let’s see if we can get the first one, and we did get it. And it was entertaining after that.”
Alabama FC notched their first goal in the 29th minute on a quick-strike counterattack. The second goal occurred a few minutes later in the 36th minute. The ball found its way past Abby Saddler only after it bounced around the box and around people for what seemed to be a minute.
While Alabama FC did not have many players on their bench, CFC also were down quite a few players for one reason or another. The home team kept the pressure on the similarly short-handed opponents throughout the second half, but none of their shots were able to get past the keeper.
“We had six or seven minutes of sustained pressure before Alabama was able to get their first goal,” coach Douglas said. “I felt like we were in the game, but we put our heads down a little bit.”
A few hours later, the CFC men breezed to a 3-0 win over Syracuse Pulse, who boasted a litany of former Chattanooga players like Kaleb Jackson and Alec McKinley. Patrolling the sidelines as coach was none other than Peter Fuller as well, who coached CFC from 2019-21.
Getting back to that 3-0 scoreline, it was something that belied how gritty and physical the entire game was from start to finish. McKinley, as he has many times, got a card for a rough foul. This time, it was a red after the team was already down two scores..
“I felt it was going to be something like this,” coach Rod Underwood said about the game’s chippiness. “We want to keep scoring goals, and keep getting it in every day. But also getting a shutout was important for us too.”
Taylor Gray scored one in the fourth minute off a Markus Naglestad pass, and then Naglestad punched in a penalty kick to secure a two-goal lead going into halftime. Syracuse tested keeper Kevin Gonzalez a few times, but those instances were rarities. A crowd of around 3000 instead watched Richard Dixon and the midfield spray balls to Brett Jones and his attacking mates for chances.
“Richard is a key figure in our team,” coach Underwood said. “He’s a leader and he does more than what you see here on the pitch.”
Alex McGrath finished off the night with a sick shot into the lower corner in the 89th minute to close out what had been the second of two entertaining matches.
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