The Chattanooga Football Club marked an item off its checklist of goals for the 2015 season on Saturday.
It involves the words "national championship," but there's still one to go.
Chattanooga improved to 7-1 this season with a 3-0 win over the Michigan Bucks in the championship round of the Steinbrecher Cup at Finley Stadium. With the win comes the title of best amateur club in the nation.
CFC plays in the National Premier Soccer League and finished runner-up during the 2014 season. The Bucks are members of the Premier Development League and won that league's title in 2014.
"This is the national championship of amateur soccer," CFC coach Bill Elliott said. "The Michigan Bucks are the most consistent amateur team in the country for the past five years, so to beat them for the Cup on our home field is exciting. I'm really blessed to be a part of this organization."facebook
Elliott, a Chattanooga native, needed a moment to take in the enormity of the moment, as he finally won his first title. CFC lost in the NPSL final in 2012 and 2014, and in his playing days, he also lost in the national title match as a member of the Chattanooga Express.
The players recognized and enjoyed the moment as well.
"It's unbelievable," said forward John Davidson, who scored the final goal. "I've played for the club for three years and we've been close multiple times, so it's a great relief and a great joy for fans to us to get this national championship under our belt.
"Hopefully there will be a few more in the future."
Saturday evening, both teams suffered red cards -- Nick Edginton for CFC, Calvin Rezende for the Bucks. Rezende was ejected with his second yellow card late in the first half, and in the next five minutes, CFC received goals from Leo De Smedt and Chris Ochieng on a late push right before halftime, with both assisted by Luke Winter.
The impact of Edginton's loss was minimized due to the strength of the CFC defense, which has only allowed two goals against amateur competition all season -- one against Ocala Stampede and another against NPSL opponent New Orleans.
The team has a break now, not playing again until a match against New Orleans on Saturday. It will be a break from a stretch of eight matches in 21 days to begin the season -- three of which have gone to overtime and two into shootouts.
CFC had five matches in the past 10 days and will need time for players to heal from an assortment of injuries as the team's full attention turns toward league play and fighting for the elusive NPSL title.
"We're on a high right now," defender James Moore said. "Tomorrow we'll wake up with sore bodies and tired minds, so the rest is good, but we're hungry for more success. It's not the end of the season, so at no point am I going to let anybody lay back and celebrate this. There's a long season ahead of us, but we're not here to rest.
"We're here to please the fans and make history for the club, which we're trying to do day by day."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.