Kanu, Pensacola end CFC women’s season
Though Friday night’s loss at Finley Stadium is sure to sting for a while, thoughts of a successful season for the Chattanooga Football Club women may alleviate some of the pain.
Top-seeded CFC fell 6-2 to Pensacola FC in a Women’s Premier Soccer League South Region semifinal. While Pensacola from the WPSL Gulf Conference improved to 7-0-1, the local team ended its season with an 8-2 record and the Southeast Conference title, a far cry from last year’s onewin season.
“We can take a good perspective from this,” CFC coach Erin Ridley said. “We had a great season, and we can take a ton away from it. The girls that came back may not have believed me when I told them they were laying a foundation for this, but it happened. We said year two had to be better than year one. It was, and now we’ll look to get even better in year three.”
CFC kept it tight enough going into halftime at 2-1, but Pensacola FC, especially Uchenna Kanu, proved too much to handle. Kanu was a one-woman juggernaut while leading her team on counterattacks. The quick, powerful striker netted five goals and played a part in her team’s other goal.
She played often out of the midfield and forced her way ahead of the CFC backline to create scoring opportunities.
“They’re a quality team,”
Ridley said. “They move the ball well. They’re smart, and they’re attack minded. In a lot of ways, that’s the kind of style we want to play.”
Kanu scored twice in the first half and continued to cause problems in the second 45 minutes. With CFC on the hunt for the equalizer, Kanu drew a foul just outside the 18-yard box in the 55th minute.
She deftly bent the ball inside the far post to provide a cushion and secure the hat trick. Just five minutes later, Kanu put another free kick on frame, and her teammate Anele Komani buried the rebound.
Kanu put in another goal before CFC found an answer to trim the lead to 5-2.
“We had our moments when we were able to possess the ball and be dangerous,” Ridley said. “I don’t think anyone here would say it felt like it was a 6-2 game. The girls showed a lot of heart and guts. They attacked and were dangerous until the end.”
Mia Hollingsworth scored both CFC goals. Her second-half strike came in the 78th minute as she got on the end of a cross from Summer Lanter with a nice run. Hollingsworth also scored in the first half, using slick ball-moving skills to evade a defender and put one in from close range.
“She’s very symbolic of our season and what we’re trying to create here,” Ridley said of the striker. “She came and cannonballed in and was all in. She was at all the team-building events and got extras in at every opportunity.
“It’s a great thing to get rewarded for that, because it doesn’t always happen. As a team, it was good to see them get rewarded for all their work. Mia is a great example of that.”
Kanu scored one more time, a mere formality, in the 85th minute to close the scoring. Pensacola FC will play the Florida Gulf Coast Dutch Lions at 9 a.m. Sunday in Finley Stadium.
Contact Idris Garcia at sports@ timesfreepress.com.
Pensacola FC’s Keidi Ruth, right, tackles Chattanooga FC’s Carlie Banks during their WPSL South Region semifinal match Friday night at Finley Stadium. Pensacola won 6-2.
Chattanooga FC’s Mia Hollingsworth, right, breaks around Pensacola FC’s Deanna Green during a South Region playoff match on Friday at Finley Stadium.