By Charles Cuttone
SAN DIEGO, CA - July 29, 2012 - Sonic FC Lehigh Valley used a stifling defense and a 78th minute goal by Tucker Sandercock to defeat Chattanooga FC 1-0 and capture the National Premier Soccer League Championship on Sunday at Del Norte High School.
After a fairly even game, with both teams creating some good chances, and both goalkeepers, NPSL ‘keeper of the year Charlie Sales of Sonic and CFC’s Greg Hartley, making some big saves, the Pennsylvania team finally broke through when Sandercock got his head on an inswinging corner kick and directed it into the back of the net.
In the eighth minute, Sonic’s Joe Sales came close to opening the scoring, turning on a ball inside the 18, but Hartley was able to make the save.
Chattanooga had a splendid opportunity six minutes later, when Sean McFarland ran into the open on the right side to catch up with a ball out of the midfield, but he got under a little, and with the aid of the wind, the shot sailed well high.
Sales came up with a huge diving stop in the 20th minute, tipping away a shot by Nathan Hodges.
Hartley spoiled another Sonic chance in the 24th minute, easily handling Tom Mustac’s header from inside the 18.
A minute later, Sonic’s Matt Baker got another chance from just outside the 18, but again Hartley made the stop.
CFC’s Phil Beene sent a curling ball from the right side into the six yard box in the 30th minute, and despite the wind doing some things to the ball, Sales made the grab. He made another big stop in stoppage time of the first half, when Carl Reynolds sent a sinking line drive on goal from 25 yards.
Chattanooga seemed to grow a little weary as the second half wore on, and their two best chances to tie the score came off free kicks. On the 8oth minute, Luis Trude, who came in as a sub, smacked a free kick off the crossbar from the top of the 18, and in stoppage time, he had a 25-yard effort cleared out of the area.
“You can’t say enough about our defense,” said Sonic FC Coach Dave “Weitie” Weitzman. “Out of 16 games, posting 12 shutouts, that’s remarkable.”
Perhaps as remarkable is the fact that the team gave up only four goals all season long, and only one of those from the run of play.