published Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Chattanooga Football Club faces test from Texans

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    CFC goalie Greg Hartley directs the defense during a 2012 game.
    Photo by Robin Rudd.
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In seven National Premier Soccer League games this season, the Chattanooga Football Club has allowed just three goals.

Three of the Southeast division-leading club's four shutouts have come at Finley Stadium, where CFC (5-1-1) will host the team hot on its heels, the Gulfcoast Texans, tonight. CFC has the division lead with 16 points and the Texans (5-0-2) are right behind with 15.

"This will certainly be a test for our defense this weekend," second-year CFC coach Bill Elliott said.

Chattanooga FC is tied with Rocket City United for the division lead in goals scored with 16; the Texans are close to the top with 12. CFC is tied with the Texans in goals allowed with just three. One of the goals CFC gave up was in a 1-0 loss at Gulfcoast on May 18.

Missing from the CFC lineup that night were defenders Andy Stewart and Nicolas Chase, who have each been with the club for four years. CFC's defense also features second-year player Nate Adams, newcomer Samuel Mansour and second-year starter in goal Greg Hartley.

"I think the fact that a lot of us have been together for a while makes a big difference," Chase said before Wednesday's practice. "Andy, he can come in after not playing in college last season, and it's just like normal. We work hard, we play as a team and we stay disciplined.

"Samuel's the only one that hasn't been here, and he's fit in really well."

Elliott said he has a great deal of confidence in his defense.

"They're all are very good individual defenders and Greg is brilliant in goal, in my opinion," he said. "But with Andy in there, he's the glue that holds everything together, organizes everybody and makes everyone else's job easier. So I'm always confident that we'll defend well when he's in the game."

Chattanooga FC wants to not only get a little revenge against the Texans tonight, it also wants the three critical points that come with a win. This is the first of three games in eight days to close out the regular season, with a trip to third-place Rocket City United (4-1-1) coming up Wednesday before CFC closes with a home game next Saturday against the New Orleans Jesters.

"If the Gulfcoast Texans or us come out on top, [the winner] definitely will be in the driver's seat, controlling our own destiny all the way to the end," Elliott said, adding, "It's going to be the most challenging game, for sure."

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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