The CFC Women were well-aware that a rematch against the Nashville Rhythm FC would be extremely difficult, especially after the CFC Women overcame a one goal deficit to beat the Rhythm at Finley Stadium earlier this season. Despite a vengeful Rhythm opponent, the Chattanooga FC Women were able to grind out a tough win in Nashville. Some hard work from Carlie Banks (#11) in the 32nd minute resulted in a Rhythm own goal, which would prove to be enough for CFC Women’s fourth conference win.

The first twenty minutes of the match were fairly uneventful. Neither team had any decent chances, and a wet surface caused both sides some technical trouble. The Chattanooga FC Women had their first real opportunity in the 24th minute, when Ashleigh Cade (#10) attempted to cross the ball into the box. A dangerous deflection forced the Rhythm goalkeeper to tip the ball over the bar for a corner kick. Though nothing came of the corner, Cade used her long throw a minute later to set up Banks from around the penalty spot. Banks’ go at goal went just wide.

In the 32nd minute, the Chattanooga FC Women got their breakthrough goal as Banks received the ball just outside of the box with her back to goal. A clever turn to her outside shoulder separated some space and got her to the byline. Banks was able to put the ball across the face of goal. In attempt to deal with the cross, the Rhythm FC defender deflected the ball into the back of her own net, giving the CFC Women the 1-0 lead.

In the 39th minute, Cade took advantage of her long throw again. A poor clearance from the Rhythm backline allowed Summer Lanter (#14) to get a shot off, and again, it went just wide of the frame.

Nashville was unable to develop much of a rhythm in the first half. For the most part, the only chances generated by the Rhythm attack came from CFC Women’s defensive breakdowns. The rough surface in the first half appeared to favor the Rhythm just a bit. Despite a couple defensive slip-ups, the CFC Women took their 1-0 lead into the half.

The Chattanooga FC Women came out of halftime flying, understanding that Nashville was going to be pressing for an equalizer early in the second half. A couple big tackles from S. Lanter and Banks reminded the Rhythm that the CFC Women were there to battle for 45 more minutes.

Despite the intensity level from the CFC Women in the early stages of the second half, the Nashville Rhythm developed their first great chance of the match in the 55th minute. The Rhythm FC midfield combined nicely and played the ball out to the winger in space. The Rhythm winger played a cross back in diagonally to her teammate, who volleyed the ball towards the back post. The ball skimmed off of the outside of the post. The CFC Women retained their 1-0 lead.

In the 59th minute, the CFC Women had their best opportunity of the second half. Cosette Morché’s (#0) goal kick fell to Banks around midfield. Banks flicked it well to S. Lanter, who was already making a run on a sprint. What appeared to be a one-on-one situation with the Rhythm goalkeeper turned into a huge tackle from the Rhythm center back, who made an incredible recovery run. The tackle kept the Rhythm in the match.

In the 75th minute, Caitlin Hayes (#5) took a clever touch to find some positive space and played a ball over the Rhythm backline. S. Lanter got to the ball, but was pushed off-balanced a bit, causing her shot to go wide of the target. The CFC Women’s only other second half opportunity came on a free kick, where Cade’s delivery was headed over the crossbar by Brooke Pirkle (#16).

Nashville Rhythm FC applied relentless pressure to the CFC Women in the last ten minutes. Anna Lanter (#4), Maddie Ricketts (#9), Kate Dirkse (#21), Mia Hollingsworth (#15) and C. Morché held strong in the last ten minutes, and they secured Chattanooga FC Women’s third clean sheet of their 2018 campaign. Through CFC Women’s four conference matches this season, they have only conceded once.

The Chattanooga FC Women return to Finley Stadium on Sunday, June 17th, for a rematch against Peachtree City MOBA, with kickoff scheduled for 6 PM EST. The result of the match has significant implications for the remainder of their conference season. A win tomorrow would eliminate Nashville Rhythm, Knoxville Emerald Force, and Peachtree City MOBA from the Southeast Conference title race. If they are able to pull off the result against PTC MOBA, the CFC Women will be forced to reckon with the Memphis Lobos. They will be traveling to Memphis on June 24th, which will be a huge match for both clubs.

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