It had been a few years since Ashley Harber played forward on a soccer pitch.
She may have earned a little more time up top Tuesday evening.
Harber contributed a goal and an assist and Elisha Fry scored the winning goal in the 88th minute as the Chattanooga Football Club women won 4-3 over the Knoxville Force at Finley Stadium.
It was the Chattanooga team’s first-ever win over the Force in six tries. CFC visits the Memphis Lobos on Saturday and hosts the Atlanta Silverbacks in the regular-season finale on June 30.
“There was a lot of back and forth tonight,” CFC coach Drew Courtney said. “There were breakdowns on both sides of the ball, but I told the ladies that this was the first time this season we had played as a team, a family. I’m very proud of that. Those are positive things to go into the end of the season with.”
Courtney wanted to give Harber, who was a defender at Belhaven University in Mississippi and has played the same position for CFC, a chance up top. He said she did a very good job with adjustments “on the fly.”
“She offers us something different. We wanted to see how well she does with her back to the goal,” Courtney said. “She’s a very strong player, good in the air.”
CFC (3-4) controlled most of the possession in the first half, but it was Knoxville that scored first, with Ashley Creason punching a shot past goalkeeper Jessica Fraiture in the 18th minute. The home team evened the match with Harber finding Carlie Banks, who nailed a shot from right outside the box.
Knoxville slipped back on top when Ashley Hickman ripped a shot from about 35 yards out a few minutes before halftime.
The teams combined for four goals in the second half, three by CFC. Summer Lanter, Harber and Fry all scored their second goals of the season, countering former Baylor School standout Kelly Pannell’s Knoxville score that tied the match at 3. Fry scored the deciding goal from the top of the box with less than two minutes to play.
“This was a great win,” Harber said. “Our coaches really prepared us for this. At halftime, they told us to keep composed whenever we were frantic, and that really helped us a lot. It felt like once we scored a goal we got scored on, but we played great and it felt good to get the win.”
Tuesday ended a span of four matches in 11 days for CFC, which split those outcomes.
“We felt like we let a game get away from us in Nashville, but we’re sitting in third or fourth place in the division, which gives us a playoff spot,” Courtney said. “As long as we take care of business in these last two matches, we’ve put ourselves in a position to be in.”
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.