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 Chattanooga Red Wolves SC

Lukic Launches Red Wolves Past Richmond in Jägermeister Cup Win

May 11, 2024 - United Soccer League One (USL1)
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC News Release

The Chattanooga Red Wolves played their second match of the USL Jägermeister Cup against the Richmond Kickers at home, the first of two cup matches outside of the Central Group. After a back-and-forth contest, the Red Wolves emerged victorious with a 1-0 final from a late, 85th minute goal from Stefan Lukic. Richmond will return to CHI Memorial Stadium on July 13th for the first regular season meeting followed by the Red Wolves traveling to Richmond for the final regular season away game on October 19th.

Much like the previous matchups between these two teams, the match got physical very quickly, with Chattanooga collecting two yellow cards and six fouls within the first 15 minutes. The Red Wolves searched for shots amidst the aggressive play but both sides remained largely limited to the midfield. Richmond was held to one shot through the first 25 minutes.

Chattanooga's chances included a free opportunity in the 26th minute that bounced around the box before ultimately being booted out by the opposing defense. Stefan Lukic teed up Omar Gomez in the 33rd minute for an on-target shot that was scooped up by the Richmond keeper followed by a free kick attempt in the 36th minute that was read by the Richmond defense and headed out of danger for the visiting side.

As the clock headed toward the halfway mark, the Red Wolves continued to search for the back of the net with a half-bicycle kick from Gustavo Fernandes that nearly landed in the corner of the net. Following that play, Ropapa Mensah went down and headed to the locker room, bringing Mayele Malango on to finish out the six minutes of stoppage time. The sides headed to the locker room scoreless with 21 fouls and five yellow cards through the first half.

The second half saw a continuation of the previous frame's physical intensity as both sides clamored to draw first blood. The goalkeepers battled it out on their respective ends as well with TJ Bush making huge saves in the 55th and 63rd minutes to deny Richmond while a head-on shot from Ricky Ruiz was absorbed by Richmond's keeper in the 59th minute.

Chattanooga finally broke through in the 85th minute with a goal from Stefan Lukic in the 85th minute, following up on a rebound from Chevone Marsh. Richmond tried to find a last minute equalizer, but the whistle was blown for the Red Wolves first win at home.

"The goal was just the product of teamwork," said Lukic. "It was definitely a team win-when you win 1-0, with ten minutes to go, it has to be the team effort...I think Polo played a great ball, I just followed the action through. The ball came where I was running and it was kind of tapped in at the end."

Head coach Scott Mackenzie called Lukic's goal a "winning moment," saying, "... you just have to be the one that gets on the end of a knock down, or a deflection, or a bouncing ball and that's what that is: that's absolutely a winning moment. Great teams, they're good through the game, but then they win in moments...that was just "let me do a little bit extra, let me run a little bit harder, let me jump a little bit more" and we'll win the game that way: winning moments."

Mackenzie also praised Bush's performance following the match, saying, "Unbelievable...kept us in the game. That's what he's there for, he's there to make big saves and when you've got a goalkeeper like that behind you, there's a lot of confidence that allows you to play higher, be on the front foot-he came up big when we needed him."

The Red Wolves will travel to Statesboro to face South Georgia Tormenta FC for the first regular season League One match since the 2024 home opener. They return home on Saturday, May 25th for another Jägermeister Cup match against Lexington SC for a Salute to Service promotion and the first fireworks show of the season. Tickets are on sale now.

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