The Chattanooga Football Club continued the momentum desired before a league opener by pulling out a 2-1 win over the Nebraska-based Bugeaters FC in a rain-drenched exhibition soccer match Saturday night at Finley Stadium.
"I think we were challenged by our opponent and challenged by the weather tonight," Chattanooga FC coach Bill Elliott said. "Somehow it tires players out more playing in the rain, I think. On a night where we had a limited sub bench, I think conditions definitely played a factor.
Added Elliott: "The other team was incredibly well organized, but we responded with finding a way to win, and I'll always be happy about that."
CFC worked the visiting defense hard from the opening kickoff by continually switching the field to open space and making its way into the attacking zone. Bugeaters goalkeeper Jack Bennett was challenged early and often with a bevy of shots and corner kicks.
Bennett's most dangerous challenge of the opening half came in the 22nd minute, when he received a yellow card for tackling CFC forward Max Wilshrey outside the box during a one-on-one breakaway opportunity. The ensuing free kick from outside the box was stopped, and the combination of missed chances and opportunistic defending kept the match scoreless at the halftime break.
Once play resumed in the second half, it didn't take long for CFC's attack to finally break through, thanks to midfielder Caleb Cole. The Coatesville, Pennsylvania, native stayed patient in the box as a launched ball bounced off a couple of heads onto his right foot for the game's first goal in the 50th minute.
Less than 20 minutes later, Felipe Oliveira continued his hot start to the season, keeping his composure as he received a chip in the box and beat the sprawling keeper for a 2-0 lead. Bugeaters FC scored its lone goal later in the half.
"Last weekend was probably the first time this coaching staff saw me play a full 90 minutes, and I did it again today and I feel much better than last time," Oliveira said after scoring his third goal of the preseason. "I honestly feel like I'm in the best shape of my life, so hopefully I can build on this and keep going."
The win was CFC's third consecutive victory as the club prepares for its first National Premier Soccer League match against Inter Nashville FC next Saturday.
"This season has been unique in that it's going to be two weeks before we have all our players in," Elliott said. "So I'm happy with the progress the group we have in is making, but I'm very anxious for the other guys to join."
Contact John Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.