FORT MILL — Early ball control helped pace the ninth-ranked Northwestern boys over third-ranked Fort Mill for a 3-1 soccer victory at Bob Jones Stadium on Tuesday.
Despite it being early in the season, the game between the Trojans and Yellow Jackets could be a prelude to determine the Region III-AAAA title. Northwestern, which has won the last nine region titles, is looking to cap off a decade of dominance in its region, while Fort Mill is coming off its first ever state title in the sport last year, taking the 3A title.
We played well, said Trojans coach Dom Wren. We didnt play our best. I though Fort Mill played tremendously well.
The loss by Fort Mill was the first one in 21 matches, dating back to last season. And with it being the first loss on the season, Jackets coach Lloyd Chalker said it isnt the end of the world.
We just didnt score, Chalker said. We missed too many opportunities. An early loss isnt a bad thing. We will see how we will deal with it.
Both teams started the game trying to gain the advantage on each other, but neither could early on.
The Trojans gained some advantage by controlling the ball on their side of things, but couldnt manufacture anything with throw-ins or an early corner kick.
Fort Mill made the first attempt at a shot on goal, but the ball was easily gobbled up by Northwesterns keeper Cody Jones, who unofficially made eight saves.
The Trojans struck first, scoring about 19 minutes into the game as junior Julian Welborn caught Jackets keeper Mason Jackson out of position.
Fort Mill tried another shot with about 15 minutes left in the first half, but was again stopped by Jones.
Northwestern controlled the ball the majority of the first half, and was able to go up by two goals as sophomore Alan Taylerson scored on a header on a throw-in from junior Manny Lozano.
After the two goals by the Trojans and despite several attempts by Fort Mill, the Northwestern defense stayed on top of things.
Fort Mill switched things up in the second half as Jackson was replaced in goal by junior Mike Usina. Despite the shake-up, Fort Mill still struggled offensively to get anything going.
That drought was broken by Jackets senior captain Jason Hirsch who scored on a free kick over the head of Jones and into the back of the net to put Fort Mill on the board at 2-1.
With the goal, the Jackets became more aggressive and stayed on the attack. However, Wren said he was glad at how he saw his team, whom he complemented for their mental toughness, fought back after Fort Mill cut their lead in half.
Fort Mill 1
NW Julian Welborn, 18:19;NW Alan Taylerson, 29:05
FM Jason Hirsch, 53:59; NW Connor Moore, 60:20
Corner kicks: Northwestern 4, Fort Mill 1.
Shots on goal: Northwestern 12, Fort Mill 10.
Saves: Cody Jones (NW) 8, Mason Jackson (FM) 2, Mike Usina (FM) 5.
Records: Northwestern 7-1-0, 5-0 Region III-AAAA; Fort Mill 10-1-0, 4-1 Region III-AAAA.