published Monday, July 30th, 2012

Chattanooga Football Club falls short

Chattanooga Football Club coach Bill Elliott
Chattanooga Football Club coach Bill Elliott
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

SAN DIEGO — The Chattanooga Football Club's second trip to the National Premier Soccer League championship game ended like the first, with disappointment.

Tucker Sandercock scored the game's only goal on a header late in the second half to give FC Sonic a 1-0 win and the league title Sunday at Del Norte High School. It was CFC's first loss to an NPSL team since the season opener on May 5.

"We played well and they were a very good team," first-year coach Bill Elliott said. "We pressed hard after they got a goal and just ran out of time. We had a couple of good chances and came up short."

This was CFC's second trip to the NPSL title game in three years. Both CFC and FC Sonic, of Lehigh Valley, Pa., were in the 2010 national semifinals, in Madison, Ala., where CFC fell 3-1 to the Sacramento Gold in the championship game.

Chattanooga FC (8-2-3) was trying to give the Southeast Conference back to back champions after Jacksonville United FC won the NPSL title last season.

Both teams had plenty of scoring chances in a scoreless first half. FC Sonic (14-1-1) was the aggressor early before CFC got its attack going, but neither side was able to finish against two of the better goalkeepers in the NPSL in CFC's Greg Hartley and Sonic's Charlie Sales, the NPSL Goalkeeper of the Year.

It was more of the same in the second half until, in the 79th minute, Sandercock headed the ball in off a corner kick for a 1-0 lead.

CFC tried to answer, attacking at every opportunity in the final minutes, but it could never get a shot past Sales.

After winning its semifinal match on Friday with only 14 players available, CFC flew in Sean McFarlane and Felipe Lawall. McFarlane had been training with the Jamaica national team, while Lawall came from Chicago where he had been coaching his under-15 team from Pensacola, Fla., in a national tournament.

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