Published May 24, 2023
Written By: Cassidy Hettesheimer / WPSL Correspondent

Photo By: Matthew Dingle

Chattanooga snags point from reigning champs

Chattanooga FC’s pair of goals after the 80’ minute helped the hosts stun No. 3-ranked Nashville Rhythm F.C. in a rainy 2-2 draw in Saturday’s South Region Matchup of the Week.

The match was the season opener for both teams and set expectations high for Chattanooga. Last season, Chattanooga finished fourth of six teams in the conference standings and lost to conference champions Nashville 5-1 and 6-0.

With the Rhythm up 2-0 behind a brace from reigning All-Conference midfielder Yuki Watari, Chattanooga forward Kailey Burrell sparked the hosts’ comeback in the 82’ minute after finishing a pass from longtime Chattanooga FC veteran Summer Hernandez that split two defenders. Burrell’s far-post finish put Chattanooga on the board.

“Summer just gave me a perfect slotted ball. So I'm like 'I have to finish it.' It was a perfect ball from Summer so she made it easy for me,” Burrell said. “That first goal was a huge mood booster for everyone, I think.”

Pressing high and looking for an equalizer, Chattanooga earned a corner kick in the 89’ minute, and Brianna Hurtado’s delivery to the back post connected the leg of an oncoming Krysan St. Louis, who evened the score at 2-2.

"I just timed it really well and just got my leg on it. I just expected the best so it found the back of the net. I was just happy,” St. Louis said.

St. Louis, four-time Footballer of the Year for the country of St. Lucia, came on as a substitute after Douglas took the chance at putting three Chattanooga forwards up top looking to spark offensive momentum as the backline dealt with Nashville’s high press.

Chattanooga goalkeeper Caroline Johnson sandwiched Nashville’s 39’ and 62’ minute goals with two big saves to keep the game close against 2022’s fourth highest-scoring offense. The first came in the 12’ minute as Johnson stepped high on a one-on-one and Johnson’s second diving save came in the 87’ minute with Nashville up 2-1 - preserving Chattanooga’s hopes of snagging a point from the match.

“My team played against [Johnson] in college for four years and I know her makeup. She’s someone who can give up a goal and not lose her mind. She’s unflappable when it comes to those types of things,” Douglas said. “She kept us in the match.”

CFC’s supporters group, The Chattahooligans, serenaded Johnson’s saves with several renditions of “Sweet Caroline” throughout the match. Despite the rain, which picked up in the second half, Chattanooga’s supporters played drums and waved flags until the final whistle.

“They’re going to cheer regardless,” Douglas said, mentioning the group’s continued support even in last season’s losses to Nashville. “Today, it was great that they got something to take away from this too, because they’re like the 12th man, living and breathing and dying with every ball.”

Next, Chattanooga hosts its second game of the season, this one against FC Birmingham, on Saturday, May 27. Nashville travels to Canton, Georgia, to play expansion side Georgia Impact on Friday, May 26.

Charlotte Eagles score double-digits in home opener

The Charlotte Eagles scored the most goals in a single WPSL game so far this season with an 11-0 win over FC Birmingham on Saturday night. Alex Jennings’ four goals— all scored in this match— put her in a three-way tie on top of this season’s WPSL scoring leaderboard.

“The group is really beginning to gel with one another,” Sam Hope, Charlotte Eagles head coach,  said. “Before the game,  we spoke about working for one another, not for individual efforts. Eleven players were involved in assisting or scoring, so the ladies responded to that challenge.”

Briana Myers, Abbi Legg, Emma Schossler, Chloe Marr, and Meredith King also found the back of the net for the Eagles. Charlotte, with 15 goals on the season, nearly doubled the second highest-scoring team’s goal tally of eight.

The Eagles are headed on a team mission trip to Medellin, Colombia, this week, so they’ll be back on the field on June 3 to host 865 Alliance’s first match of the year.

Georgia Impact and Women’s Football Club of Charlotte draw in Impact’s WPSL debut

Late goals for both Georgia Impact and WFCC ended the Impact’s WPSL debut in a close-fought 1-1 draw.

Marshall University alumna forward Farah Tayeh put Georgia Impact on the board first, scoring the expansion team’s first-ever league goal in the 76’ minute. But, Sarah Sexton equalized for WFCC in the 85’ minute.

University of Louisville midfielder Emma Kate Schroll earned the Impact’s first Man of the Match award, while WFCC head coach Scott Ginn said Sexton was the hosts’ outstanding player of the night.

Georgia Impact will welcome fans to its first-ever home opener on Friday, May 26 looking to make a statement as an expansion side earning points against the Nashville Rhythm F.C.

WFCC will have next weekend off then play Soda City FC on the road on Saturday, June 3, rematching just a few week’s after WFCC’s 7-0 win over the South Carolina team in May.

Soda City FC hosting AFU delayed due to weather

Columbia, South Carolina’s weather did not cooperate for Soda City FC and Atlanta Fire United with soggy field conditions postponing the team’s Sunday matchup.

The game will be rescheduled, with more details to come at a later date.

Soda City FC will host Georgia Impact on Sunday, May 28, and Atlanta Fire United will have to wait a few more weeks to make its WPSL debut hosting Chattanooga FC on Sunday, June 4.