Forward Madison FC finished the season with a win — remaining unbeaten in their last three — with a 2-1 win over Chattanooga Red Wolves at Breese Stevens Field.
A Christian Enriquez free kick from about 25 yards out put the Mingos ahead just after the half hour mark. Following a foul just outside the top of the box on Derek Gebhard, midfielders Aaron Molloy and Enriquez stepped up to take it. Molloy, who usually takes free kicks, feigned a step to the dead ball, leaving it for Enriquez, who curled it over the wall and past Red Wolves keeper Tim Trilk for his first professional goal.
“He’s been better than me this week (in practice),” Molloy said of Enriquez. “I had to let him have it.”
The home side nearly doubled the lead moments later, as Ryan Sierakowski took a cross from Jiro Barriga Toama and put the ball in the back of the net but was ruled offside.
An own-goal in the second half proved the winner, as Josiah Trimmingham got a point-blank shot onto a cross from Audi Jepson, but Trilk made a challenging save. Chattanooga defender Jason Ramos attempted a clearance but it banged into Jonathan Rickets and into the goal.
The Red Wolves answered less than two minutes later with a cross from Rey Ortiz that deflected off Madison goalkeeper’s hand onto the inside of the far post, bouncing in for a goal.
A furious final push proved fruitless for Chattanooga. Deep into stoppage time, Jonathan Villalobos got a solid header from a corner kick, but Breno made the save and Jorge Luna headed the rebound wide in the last touch before the full time whistle.
As the Mingos had been eliminated from the postseason last week, the game was meaningless from a playoff perspective, but head coach Carl Craig said it was still important for the community.
“I think the lads showed the community what we’re all about,” he said, calling the season-ending win “massive.”
Though the win was meaningless to Madison’s future, it did have implications in the playoff picture. With the loss, Chattanooga fell from second to third, sacrificing a first-round playoff bye and ceding the second seed to Greenville. Chattanooga will host Tucson in the first round next weekend.