The aggressive, attacking style of the Chattanooga Football Club women's team finally paid off.
The newly-formed team earned the program's first-ever victory Saturday, going on the road and defeating the Knoxville Lady Force 2-1 at Regal Stadium in Knoxville. The men's team improved to 4-2-1 on the year with a 4-0 win over the Knoxville Force in the nightcap.
CFC head coach Patrick Winecoff said Sunday by phone that his club had an array of chances throughout the match, and felt as though the women "outworked" Knoxville. CFC (1-2) had taken a 1-0 edge when Suzanne Arafa finished off a Brittney Reed cross in the 10th minute, but Knoxville tied the match when Kiah Allen scored in the 23rd. Nicki Gears scored the game-winning goal for the women in the 77th minute with an assist from Christina Cambron.
The goals were Gears' third and Arafa's first.
"I thought the win was well deserved," Winecoff said. "The girls worked extremely hard in the game; our tempo was good and our communication was much improved. We had some gaps when we had some subs in late in the first half, but defensively we were all over them from the front to the back, and it was frustrating for them. We worked hard for the turnovers we got, and it was hard for Knoxville to deal with."
Winecoff praised the play of Reed, Josie Love Roebuck, Amy Schermerhorn and Paige Elliott on Knoxville forward Hannah Wilkinson, as the defenders limited the chances of the dangerous University of Tennessee rising junior. Former GPS standout Simone Busby played the entire match in goal and had some solid saves.
The women return to action Friday when they travel to Birmingham to face Alabama FC. They return home the following day to host Georgia Revolution at Finley Stadium at 7:30.
The CFC men improved to 3-1-1 in National Premiere Soccer League play Saturday with their 4-0 result over Knoxville, scoring four goals in a 15-minute span in the second half. Luke Winter, John Carrier, Luis Trude and Chris Ochieng scored for head coach Bill Elliott's club, who played their fourth match in eight days.
"We're excited about the result," Elliott said Sunday by phone. "We felt that coming off two games on the road last weekend and the U.S. Open Cup match Wednesday, there was potential for disaster. But we learned a few things in the game against Atlanta and made a few changes to the way we were playing and to our personnel, and it worked out well for us. We hit the crossbar twice in the first half and had some close chances, but didn't score them, so once we scored our first goal, I think Knoxville didn't respond well."
With Pensacola City FC folding Friday, CFC loses their next scheduled home match. They will be on the road Saturday at Rocket City United.
"We would rather play -- especially at home -- but we're going to use the day for some extra practice," Elliott said. "It's good for us to have a full week of practice; we play so many games in a small amount of time.
"I hate it for our fans that we lose the home match, but I think an extra day of training is a good thing at this point."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.