June 23, 2012 (Chattanooga, TN.)—An unreachable but most desirable goal for the striker, the hat trick is a rare feat accomplished even in the biggest of divisions. To rack up three hat tricks in one season, much less in a span of three league games, is almost unheard of. Yet Luke Winter, former Norfolk U18 captain and current Chattanooga FC striker, has done it.
On June 9, when Chattanooga FC faced Myrtle Beach FC at home, Luke Winter was moved from the backfield to the frontline because several of his teammates had suffered injuries. This clutch decision by Head Coach Bill Elliott turned out to be the most impressive decision of his National Premier Soccer League career, as Winter scored and scored again and scored again.
By the time Chattanooga FC took on Rocket City United on June 22, 2012, the Chattahooligans—Chattanooga super fans—had begun ominously chanting "Winter's Coming!" However, no-one imagined that Winter would come so quickly and in such a devastating fashion on a hot, muggy Alabama night. Scoring all three of Chattanooga's goal for the night, Winter ensured a must-win was achieved.
There is not one soul who could have predicted that within twenty-four hours, while recovering from near heat exhaustion, Luke Winter would coolly manage to hat trick his hat trick. Yet while the Chattahooligans warned Mississippi Storm with their chants and the crowd sweltered in close to 100°F heat, the human blizzard laid down the ice three more times.
When asked about his hat tricks, Winter humbly stated, "Just glad I scored." He was also quick to point out that he did not do it alone and that he benefitted from a strong defense that can play the ball forward, a mid-field that keep the ball moving toward the goal line, and assists by Rafael Faria, Carl Reynolds, John Carrier, and Michael Brooks.
Winter is a veteran of Chattanooga FC, a National Premier Soccer League team based out of Chattanooga, TN. In 2011, Winter assisted the only goal scored against DC United U23 and managed a comeback goal during the Georgia Revolution game, one that was delivered so powerfully it knocked a defender's head backward. Winter also attends Tennessee Wesleyan in Athens, TN, where he has earned various 2011 honors and emerged at the top of the collegiate pack: AAC 1st team, 1st in nation for game winning goals, and 3rd in nation for goals per game.
Chattanooga FC will travel to Georgia Revolution on June 30. And you can bet they already know that "Winter's Coming!"