Underneath the Friday night lights at Finley Stadium, postseason soccer will begin for the Chattanooga Football Club against Inter Nashville FC in a National Premier Soccer League Southeast Conference semifinal at 7:30.
The dramatics and spine-chilling moments in do-or-die time have arrived, and the feeling is one that doesn't get old.
"When you are in that elimination round, it is exciting and you never know what can happen," eighth-year Chattanooga FC coach Bill Elliott said Thursday. "One goal can change everything. But we are at Finley. The drums are going to be beating, the crowd will be singing and that energy is going to feed our guys, I think."
His team survived a stretch of nine games within a 27-day span to win the club's eighth regular-season title in its 11th season. The starting 11 have been different in every one of those nine games.
CFC (7-2-1) has outscored its league competition 29-11. Jose "Zeca" Ferraz and Felipe Oliveira have been consistent forces on the offensive end with a combined nine goals.
From scoring five goals in just 51 minutes against Inter Nashville FC (4-5-1) last Wednesday to netting three scores against a world power in Real Betis, a promising attack will look to break out in the postseason.
"When all cylinders are firing, we can put up goals on anybody," Elliott said. "Different guys have stepped up for us and provided good energy. Joao (Costa) is back healthy, and I expect him to play a big role this weekend. He is super important to our attack, and I expect him to be a feature this weekend."
Second-year keeper Phil D'Amico has allowed only 1.1 goals per game.
"We have won the conference tournament seven times and have made it to the national finals four times," Elliott said. "Our club has a great legacy, but this group of players didn't do all that. This group has to build its own legacy. We are challenging them to do that and also need the fire from our fans this weekend, too."
Greenville FC (5-1-4) will face Asheville City SC (5-3-2) in Friday's 4:30 p.m. semifinal, and that winner will take on Chattanooga or Inter Nashville FC at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets will cost $12 at the gate both days.