The Otters were able to travel down to Knoxville on Wednesday night and leave with a 3-1 win over the NPSL side. This was the only preseason match for the Otters before they begin their regular season schedule next week. The Otters and the Knoxville Force played three 30-minute halves, with the Otters scoring three goals before conceding late off of a corner.
The first period started with Knoxville testing the Otters and their new 3-4-3 formation and creating some chances. However, none bothered Torge Wiedenroth (Reinhardt) in goal, as he kept the Force off the board in the firs period.
Once the Otters settled in, they were able to disrupt Knoxville going forward and counter quickly. Jeremy De Hoog (Rio Grande University) nearly got the Otters on the board early with a corner kick that found the head of Taylor Gray (Lees-McRae), but it was pushed just wide.
The breakthrough came around the 15th minute when defender James Scasserra (Palm Beach Atlantic) intercepted a pass and quickly played it forward to winger Ayuk Tambe (Tusculum). Tambe was able to get past his defender and send in a cross that Gray was able to bury this time around for the 1-0 lead.
In the second period the Otters offense got off to a sizzling start. Midfielder Medhi Chtara (France) was able to earn a dangerous free kick deep in Knoxville territory. Blake Barribeau (Palm Beach Atlantic) stepped up to take the free kick, which Levy-Aquilas Nsimba (France) headed home for the Otters second score. Barribeau also contributed heavily on the defensive side, playing as the left centerback and stopping attacks and initiating the counter attack.
Minutes later the Otters added another goal off of an Edgar Cervantes (Tusculum) interception. He forced the turnover near midfield and played it to forward Guillermo Segovia (Ohio Valley), who played in Chtara, who found a streaking Cervantes on the back post for the tough finish.
Chtara nearly had another goal moments later, but it went off of the side netting. Knoxville had some chances of their own late in the second period, but goalkeeper Tyler Pavlet (Lees-McRae) was up to the task, making several big saves.
The third period saw Knoxville control the ball and create the bulk of the chances. However, Josh Pruett (Berry) and Diego Thielen (Ohio Valley) were almost always up to the task, snuffing out several threats. Goalkeeper Tim Trilk (Western Illinois) was also able to make several big saves from point-blank range to keep the shutout going.
Knoxville finally got on the board after a corner kick found a man on the backpost, who nodded home to give the 3-1 final scoreline.
The Otters will continue their preseason training until they travel to Statesboro to take on Tormenta FC on May 19th to open their 2018 PDL season. The Otters will return to the Tri-Cities and play their first home game on June 8th against Mississippi Brilla in Kermit-Tipton Stadium. You can stay up to date with all aspects of the team through social media! #FearTheFur