Paul Fortmiller was at the right place at the right time. But just by a couple inches.
The Chattanooga Christian soccer player was just able to get a toe on a ball bouncing around the box in the final minutes of overtime in the team’s District 7-A/AA semifinal against Notre Dame, and he touched the ball past Irish keeper James Teal for the game-winner in a 1-0 victory, sending the Chargers (8-4-4) to the district final against Signal Mountain.
The Irish (7-8-2) outshot the Chargers 11-10 and were mere inches away from scoring in regulation when Esteban Lopez had a shot similar to Fortmiller’s that CCS’s Matt Hester made a sliding non-keeper save on. That was in the first half.
Notre Dame had a similar dangerous opportunity in the second half when Lopez created an opportunity for Christian Colvard, whose shot attempt just bounded wide of the goal.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Notre Dame coach Jim Schermerhorn said. “We had chances and I thought we played well enough to win, but we just couldn’t finish.”
CCS’s most dangerous chance came on a free kick in the second half by Porter Black, who previously had created the opportunity from about 20 yards out with some nice footwork down the sideline which eventually resulted in a Notre Dame foul. Black’s shot attempt glanced off the pole.
The game seemed destined for penalty kicks when Fortmiller’s toe came to the rescue, set up by a David Drinnon corner kick that was touched to Fortmiller by J. Michael Phebus.
“We certainly had some pretty close chances,” CCS coach David Stanton said. “The warm weather caused a change of dynamic for both, but it was definitely a back-and-forth match and I was a little surprised when we scored there.
“I’ve been told for a long time, though: Keep the ball in the box, because you never know what will happen.”
CCS’s Jonathan Crossman finished with eight saves for the Chargers, while Teal had three for the Irish.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.