The Chattanooga FC Women appear to be heading in the right direction, as was evident in their 2018 home opener at Finley Stadium. On Sunday, May 20th, the CFC Women opened up their 2018 campaign with a 2-0 win over Emerald Force SC Women, who made the trip from Knoxville, Tennessee. Down the road, Sunday’s win may prove to be a crucial three points. A game winning goal put away by Ashleigh Cade (#10) early on in the 8th minute and an insurance goal scored by Cass Wade (#15) in the 64th minute were enough to push the CFC Women past the EFSC Women.

The first few minutes of the match on Saturday were slow. Both the CFC Women and the EFSC Women tested the waters, playing everything safe. It wasn’t until the 8th minute that Cade found space at the top the box and took advantage of a sun-facing EFSC goalkeeper. Cade’s go at goal flew right over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to give the CFC Women a 1-0 edge early.

The early goal set the EFSC Women back on their heels a bit and gave the CFC Women confidence moving forward. The remainder of the first half consisted of an abundance of chances for CFC women. Summer Lanter (#14) and Brooke Pirkle (#16) both had two good looks at goal, but both were handled well by the EFSC goalkeeper. Additionally, Caitlin Hayes (#5) put a header over the crossbar off of a corner kick and Brittney Reed (#27) found a shot on target on a free kick in the first half’s added time.

The EFSC Women were gifted with one golden opportunity in the 37th minute, where an EFSC winger found space on the flank and delivered a cross into the penalty area. A clever run towards the penalty spot looked promising for the Emerald Force women, but Carson Parker (#18) tracked the run and made a vital tackle off the striker’s back shoulder. The 37th minute opportunity represented the extent of EFSC’s first half attack.

The beginning of the second half looked very similar to the beginning of the match. The CFC Women’s momentum was temporarily halted as both clubs sat back and found contentment in a bit of possession. Unlike the first half where Cade gave CFC the momentum, the second half’s first quality chance came in the 53rd minute and was produced by the EFSC Women. Cosette Morché (#0) was forced to step off her line and make a big save to help the CFC Women retain their 1-0 edge. Despite the chance early in the second half, the EFSC Women were unable to build any additional momentum.

Though the Chattanooga FC Women found themselves in good positions frequently in the second half, they were only able to find the back of the net one additional time. In the 64th minute, Cass Wade slipped through and found herself in a one-on-one situation with the EFSC goalkeeper. After calmly analyzing the positioning of the goalkeeper, Wade side-footed the ball past the goalkeeper, beating her at the near post. The insurance goal provided the CFC Women with a comfortable 2-0 lead. Despite EFSC’s desperation push, the CFC Women controlled the remaining 26 minutes, securing the 2-0 victory in their home opener.

Morché did her share to keep the clean sheet in the home opener. Though comfortable for the majority of the match, Lizzy Shaughnessy (#17), Hayes, Parker, Reed, and Lanter stood firm to help Morché keep the EFSC Women scoreless.

The CFC Women were blessed with the contributions of several players coming off the bench. Sam Debien (#8), Mia Hollingsworth (#19), and Anna Lanter (#4) were able to maintain and elevate the standard that the first eleven set. Each played a significant role in the club’s success on Sunday.

CFC Women’s Head Coach, Erin Ridley, was happy with her squad’s opening night performance. “Sunday’s win against the Emerald Force SC was an exciting way to begin our season. Even with the rain delay, we had an incredible environment with the fans and the Chattahooligans in full force. While we were a bit frantic at the start, we were able to settle in after the first 20 minutes and really start to play. Our goalkeeper and back line were extremely solid. We built out cleanly from the back at times and our midfield rotation allowed for players to find themselves in good spaces. Our forwards defended well from the front and gave us width in the final third. One of our keys for the match was to dominate possession in order to move the opposition and find numerical advantages. We were able to get ourselves in key areas in the final third and we will continue to focus on making the right decisions there in order to generate quality chances. We’re hungry for more and we’re really looking forward to our next match on the road against Alabama FC on Saturday night at Columbus State.”

The CFC Women look to improve on their solid start. They return to action on May 26th as they will travel to Columbus State University to take on Gulf Conference opponent, Alabama FC. Following that match, Chattanooga FC Women will return to Finley Stadium for another big conference match against Nashville Rhythm FC on June 3rd. Kickoff for the home match is scheduled for 6 PM EST.

For more information, contact Stephen Ricketts @ sricketts8352@bryan.edu.