There was no celebration Saturday night at Finley Stadium for the Chattanooga Football Club.
Chattanooga FC had a chance to clinch a second straight National Premier Soccer League Southeast Conference title with a win, but the Georgia Revolution didn’t allow it.
The Revolution led 3-0 early in the second half before CFC launched an epic rally that ended with a Chris Ochieng game-tying goal in the 79th minute. Six minutes later, the Revolution scored the game winner for a thrilling 4-3 victory.
“After I scored I thought we had it,” Ochieng said.
Entering Saturday’s game, CFC had allowed just four goals in eight Southeast Conference games. The Revolution doubled that total, getting two in each half.
“The first half was painful,” CFC coach Brian Crossman said. “It was probably our worst half of the season.”
It was the first home loss for CFC (5-2-2) since its inaugural season in 2009.
Instead of clinching the title, and a spot in the NPSL Final Four, CFC now must go on the road next Saturday and beat the Knoxville Force to lock up the Southeast title. And the win by the Revolution (4-2-3) put them in second place with a shot at the title if CFC loses or ties in Knoxville.
“We’ve got to win on the road now,” Crossman said. “We had our chance to take care of business at home and didn’t do it, so we’ve got to go on the road — and we’ve been a good road team this year.”
Any hopes of another CFC shutout ended in the 13th minute when the Revolution scored on a header for a 1-0 lead. In the 33rd minute an own goal on a deflected pass that got past goalkeeper Thomas Hunter pushed the Revolution’s advantage to 2-0.
“They’re probably the best attacking team we saw this year,” Crossman said.
The Revolution appeared to put the game away with a breakaway goal in the 51st minute. But not quite.
Shortly after coming in as a substitute, forward Luke Winter volleyed a shot past Revolution goalkeeper, and Tennessee Wesleyan teammate, Josh Van Leader to make it 3-1 in the 58th minute.
That finally gave the crowd of more than 2,000 something to cheer about, and more was to come.
Ochieng sent a cross to Moises Drumond in the 71st minute and Drumond slipped it by Van Leader to make it 3-2. CFC had several very good but empty scoring chances in the next few minutes: An Ochieng header hit the post and Van Leader made a leg save on a Michael Brooks shot.
The Revolution settled down after Ochieng tied the game, and it was the visitors who made the crucial play in the closing minutes.
Chattanooga FC’s final home game is July 23, when it hosts the D.C. United under-23 squad.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...