Chattanooga Football Club saved its best for last.
CFC put up its largest margin of victory this season with a 9-0 win against Asheville City Soccer Club in the inaugural Blue Ridge Derby on Wednesday night at Finley Stadium.
However, for CFC coach Bill Elliott, it wasn't about the final mark on the scoreboard, it was just important to see a tally under the win column.
"I think it was important for our fans and for our players to be able to go out and get the win," Elliott said. "If that would have been 1-0 or 9-0 it didn't matter, what was important wasn't how many goals we scored but just the fact that we got the result and we can leave everyone on a good note this year."
The win came exactly one week after a 2-1 loss to Inter Nashville FC in the National Premier Soccer League Southeast Conference playoffs that ended CFC's bid for another run to the national finals. For the first time since 2013, CFC failed to advance beyond the first round of the postseason.
The match against Asheville City SC was announced only two weeks ago, but it will be an annual series rotating between the two cities with a trophy that stays with the winning club in between rivalry meetings. CFC finished 8-4-4 overall this season.
"(The win) was really important for us," CFC's Samuel Goni said. "We disappointed (the fans) this year because we didn't go to the finals, so we really needed a big win to keep the energy going for next year."
Goni, who has been plagued with injuries throughout his third year with CFC, had an explosive first half.
With CFC ahead 2-0 after Leo DeSmedt nailed a 55-yard goal in the 24th minute, Goni wanted a little glory of his own. Described by Elliott as "a race horse who had been caged up all year," Goni scored back-to-back-to-back goals in a matter of 12 minutes to close out the first half.
Goni said Wednesday night's performance gives him a lot of confidence heading back to Cal State Fullerton.
"He had so much energy and he was so excited to be recovered from his injury and be back on the field," Elliott said of Goni and his hat trick. "I couldn't be happier for him to have that little bit of success that hopefully he will carry forward into his college season."
John Carrier added his second goal of the night in the 52nd minute, while Dino Jones, Darwin Lom and Zeca Ferraz each netted one apiece to finalize the win.
And now CFC holds on to "The Keg" — an empty keg bearing both CFC and ACSC's logos and colors that serves as the derby's trophy.