In its third game in eight days, the Chattanooga Football Club got a late goal from Michael Brooks to beat the New Orleans Jesters 1-0 and win the National Premier Soccer League South East Division title.
That was on June 29, and CFC (6-1-3) mostly has been resting and healing since then. It's a break -- Tuesday's practice was the third since the Jesters win -- the club needed before it begins the South Conference playoffs this Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., against the South Central runaway champions, Tulsa Athletics (10-0-2).
"I think the break has been good for us," CFC coach Bill Elliott said. "It's allowed people with nagging injuries some time to recover, and it's also been some time for people to have a little bit of a mental break.
"I guess we won't know until we play Saturday, but in theory it seems like it came at a good time."
Chattanooga was without starters Chris Ochieng and Samuel Mansour for the finale against the Jesters, but both will be back with the team before departure for Tulsa. Elliott said CFC could be without a few working players who will be unable to travel, however.
CFC played a balanced schedule, with two games each against the five other teams in the South East. Heading into the final two weeks of the season, three teams had a shot at the division championship.
In the South Central, which has just four teams, each team played the other three squads four times. In Tulsa's case, that meant routing some teams over and over again. Tulsa won four games against the Houston Hurricanes by a combined score of 17-2 and swept Houston Regals SCA by a combined 19-2.
Tulsa won the South Central by 10 points and outscored its opponents 44-9. Chattanooga FC won the South East by three points and outscored its opponents 18-4.
Elliott said Tulsa's fellow South Central members weren't willing to talk about the Athletics when contacted, which isn't unusual among competing leagues in any level of sports.
"I hope that our conference is as stingy with information about us as that conference is with information about Tulsa," Elliott said with a smile.
Ultimately, he said, CFC has to worry about its own preparation and play.
"We just worry about ourselves and take care of the things you can control," he said. "If we're good enough, we're good enough. If not, we put our best foot forward."
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.
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 ...
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