CFC vs. Silverbacks
What: Chattanooga FC hosts the NPSL Southeast Conference rival Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves.
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Finley Stadium
The stakes: CFC leads the Southeast Conference by two points over the Silverbacks and the Georgia Revolution, and tonight's game will go a long way toward determining the league champion.
Through nine games this season, the Chattanooga Football Club has allowed just five goals. And three of those came against a professional team in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup.
In goal, Thomas Hunter has made save after save as CFC takes a 6-2-1 overall record - 4-1-1 in National Premier Soccer League Southeast Conference play - into tonight's key league game against the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves (4-2-2).
"I feel like I've played fairly well," said Hunter, who was the backup to Richard Masters last season. "I've made a couple of mistakes, but overall I feel like each game has been pretty good. The defense has helped me out a lot."
Hunter was replaced in goal for the Rocket City United game in the U.S. Open Cup qualifying by Juan Robles, but regained the starting job when Robles suffered a knee injury. CFC coach Brian Crossman said he's been pleased with the play of Hunter and the rest of the club's defense.
"We've given up five goals in nine games ... you can certainly live with that," Crossman said.
A former second-team All-Southern Conference keeper at Wofford, Hunter is in his second season with CFC - but he hasn't embraced all things Chattanooga.
Last November, he was in the stands rooting for his alma mater when it routed the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team 45-14, ending the Mocs' hopes of making the playoffs.
When he's not in goal, Hunter is at D1 Sports, either working out or working as a trainer. Hunter has battled some minor injuries this season but said he feels fine heading into tonight's game.
CFC sits atop the Southeast standings with 13 points, two more than the Silverbacks and the Georgia Revolution. A win would put CFC in a strong position to defend its conference championship with three league games remaining.
Chattanooga beat the Silverbacks 1-0 in overtime in the finals of the Cup qualifying.
"A win would put us five points clear, so it should be a good game," Hunter said. "It's always heated against Atlanta."
After tonight, CFC visits the Revolution next Saturday before hosting the Under-20 team for CF Monterrey, from Mexico, on July 4.