Clark Marshall has had to work his way back slowly into soccer-playing shape after tearing the ACL in one his knees six months ago. Ten minutes here, 20 minutes there, the Chattanooga Christian soccer coaches have had to portion his minutes out since his return a week ago.
The senior made the most of his minutes Friday.
Marshall scored what turned out to be the winning goal seven minutes into the Chargers' 1-0 victory over District 7-A/AA rival Notre Dame -- a match that both coaches seemed to think favored the Irish everywhere but on the scoreboard.
It was CCS's second consecutive one-goal victory over a potential future opponent. The Chargers (5-3-4, 2-1) earned a hard-fought win over East Ridge earlier in the week.
The win helps them stay close to first-place Signal Mountain in the district standings, but the Eagles handed CCS their district loss on April 4, so the Chargers need the Irish (4-5-2, 0-1) to defeat Signal on April 28 to force a potential three-way tie headed into the postseason.
Marshall's goal was set up after a handball in the box by Notre Dame's Robert Kidwell.
"Robert was just doing his job," Notre Dame coach Jim Schermerhorn said. "He was trying to block the cross and was just a little off balance. If you defend long enough, you're going to have an own goal or a handball in the box. It just happens; we were unlucky."
Both teams had near goals the rest of the way. A Notre Dame player had a throw-in that found the net in the 11th minute, but the referees ruled that the ball didn't touch a player and therefore wasn't a live ball and a goal. Christian Colvard also had a couple of attempts that were saved by CCS keeper Jonathan Crossman, who finished with five saves.
The Chargers' Porter Black fired a liner on a free kick that glanced off the crossbar late in the first half, and then Marshall had a header attempt that sailed over the cross in the second half.
"We found a way and hung in there," CCS coach David Stanton said. "We played really draggy and it wasn't one of our better games. We'll do better; the season is up and down and up and down. I don't want to take anything away from Notre Dame: They took advantage of our soft evening and went to work on us, but they didn't quite connect.
"I was expecting the worst the whole time."
Said Schermerhorn: "I'm not unhappy with what we did. We just couldn't find the goal. We had some decent chances but they weren't good enough; then we were rushed and a little off. I like the way we worked together, but we couldn't get that one."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.