Luke Winter returned from a one game suspension, scoring the game clinching goal in Chattanooga's 2-0 win over the Tulsa Athletics. The win propelled the FC to their third NPSL South Region title in five years. Gregor Hartley continued his stellar play between the pipes, recording his third straight shutout for Chattanooga, and 9th overall on the year.
For the second straight match, the FC got on the board within minutes of the opening kick. After clearing a Tulsa corner kick, Luis Trude found himself behind the Athletics defense and sprinted almost the entire length of the pitch before popping the net and staking Chattanooga to an early 1-0 lead less than 4 minutes into the match.
FC Coach Bill Elliott did not want his squad to ease up after the quick goal set the tone.
"Sometimes teams relax. You saw the US in the World Cup. They got an early goal in the one game and then they just kind of tried to absorb pressure the rest of the game and it didn't work out to well for them, so what we talk about is if we go and get that goal, which we always hope to, is we've got to push for the second."
The second goal didn't come until the 79th minute. That's when Winter finally came for the Chattahooligans. Chris Ochineg found Winter streaking down the field and delivered a perfectly timed pass that Winter tapped in for the final score of the evening. An evening that gave Winter a little redemption.
"This coming back into it I mean it was a big decision to play me because I didn't play last night. And you know just such a turnaround for me from last week. Throughout the week, I've been tuning up, hoping something happens. Today is just great."
Chattanooga FC will face the 13-0 New York Red Bulls U23 team in the national semifinals. The site is still to be determined. It could be back at Finley Stadium in front of the Chattahooligans. Chattanooga submitted a bid to host the National Finals, but won't know until early next week if they will get to host another weekend of playoff action.