Three Chattanooga Football Club players received 2023 First-Team Honors in the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL).
Honored were Summer Hernandez, Avery Engels, and Kedie Johnson.
The 2023 return of the CFC Women’s team was a storied journey with sensational turns. Following up on culture building and foundational work from the 2022 season, the team demonstrated an improved side.
The CFC Women started their WPSL campaign with a rainy home opener against Nashville Rhythm on May 20th. After conceding two goals to Nashville, striker Kailey Burrell and forward Krysan St. Louis led a decisive comeback with two sensational goals made in the second half. The season started with a dramatic 2-2 comeback draw and plenty of enthusiasm despite the overcast weather.
Building from the momentum of the home opener, the CFC women went on to score a dominant 7-0 over FC Birmingham at Fort Finley on May 27th. Throughout the match, the team was efficient in creating chance after chance, consistently breaking past the Birmingham defense and earning a statement win. Well-placed goals were scored evenly across the two halves by Kedie Johnson, Krysan St. Louis, Ava Vandoren, Sage Sammeli, and Summer Hernandez for the hat trick.
The first away game saw the CFC Women travel to Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville on June 2nd to face off against the 865 Alliance, accompanied by a legion of flag-bearing CFC supporters. Following a static first half and 2 goals from the opposition, the CFC women equalized once again in dramatic fashion during the second half. Former CFC Academy product Avery Engels executed a well-timed header in the 81st minute, dinking the ball into the net. Just five minutes later in the 86th minute, a PK from Krysan St. Louis earned the equalizer, maintaining the CFC women’s undefeated status.
Just two days later, the CFC women faced another away match against Atlanta Fire on June 4th. With only half chances made during the first half, the game was goalless at the second half. Ukrainian midfielder Nadiia Ivanchenko and defensive midfielder Samantha Maudsley fired in two scorching goals at the 70th and 78th minute respectively, to be followed by a header into the goal by Krysan St. Louis at the 83rd minute. More chances were made, but the CFC finished at 0-3 for a decisive win.
On June 10th, the momentum staggered a bit when the women in blue faced off against Nashville Rhythm at Father Ryan Fields for their third consecutive away game, and with top-scoring forward Summer Hernandez absent from the starting lineup. Krysan St. Louis skillfully punched in a rebounded shot from Kailey Burrell in the 29th minute, bringing Chattanooga up 1-1. But with three more Nashville goals scored in the second half, Chattanooga struggled to regain traction and the score remained 4-1 at the final whistle.
On June 16th, a second match with 865 Alliance on home turf proved frustrating as the CFC women suffered a 1-3 defeat despite heavy pressure from Chattanooga during the second half. A consolation goal by Summer Hernandez put CFC on the board in the 58th minute.
Frustrations continued during the June 24th match against WFC Charlotte, where the opposition cruised to a 5-0 victory over the women in blue.
Regrouping from struggles in Charlotte and with one last chance to prove themselves at home, the Sky Blues came back in sterling fashion to end the WPSL season with a 7-0 banger against Soda City FC after a lengthy storm delay. A beautifully curved kick by Nadiia Ivanchenko found the net in the 3rd minute for CFC’s explosive start. The women in blue continued to dominate, denying any chances to the visiting side. The remaining 6 goals were all scored in rapid succession during the second half. Krysan St. Louis, Kailey Burrell, and Avery Engels joined the fun with a goal each, and Summer Hernandez came in once again for her second hat trick of the season. It was an incredible display for the home crowd and the perfect send off for the women in blue.
Showing a much improved side, this 2023 squad executed the important work that captivated their home city and planted the phenomenon of women’s soccer even deeper into the minds and hearts of Chattanoogans.