Northwestern 5, South Pointe 3

Northwestern holds off South Pointe for ninth straight soccer win

bmccormick@heraldonline.comMarch 27, 2013 

Northwestern held off South Pointe in an eight-goal boys’ soccer thriller Tuesday night to stretch its winning streak to nine games. The Trojans moved up to No. 4 in the state’s Class AAAA polls this week, but were tested to the limits by a dangerous Stallions team. Ultimately, several defensive flubs cost the visitors and Dom Wren’s Trojans emerged 5-3 victors.

“We were missing our senior captain (Austin Newman) through illness, but it didn’t really show,” said Wren, whose team faces Rock Hill later this week. “We had some leadership out there, and I was delighted with the win in the end.”

Even without Newman up front, Northwestern scored twice in the first 10 minutes and threatened to steamroll the Stallions on a swampy quagmire of a pitch. But David Parnell’s plucky club fought back to make it 2-1, before the Trojans again went ahead two goals, taking a 3-1 lead into the break. South Pointe (3-6-1, 3-4 in Region 3) scored within three minutes of the second half kickoff to make it 3-2, but Northwestern (10-1, 7-0) put the game beyond doubt with two second half goals, even as the Stallions made it interesting with a late third.

Wren wasn’t thrilled with the route taken to the win, but Northwestern still hasn’t lost since a defeat to Myrtle Beach in the second game of the season.

“A little disappointed,” he said afterward, “which maybe is a sign of how high we’ve set our standards. They actually dominated the last 15 minutes after going a man down, so give credit to South Pointe, but also maybe a wee bit of mental lapse on our part.”

Wren’s club was at its rampaging best in the opening 10 minutes. They were on the board inside 60 seconds after Patrick Raad’s towering left wing free kick got beyond South Pointe’s keeper and was nodded into the open goal by 6-foot-4 Trojan center back Alan Taylorson.

The Trojans nearly doubled their lead moments later when sophomore Erwin Salazar beat his man on the wing and squared across a yawning goalmouth only for a pair of Northwestern players to fluff their shots.

All of the Trojans’ best chances were born out wide and they didn’t have to wait long for the second goal 10 minutes in. Julian Welborn beat the keeper to a tempting through ball and cut the ball back for Devin Young, who bobbled in a left-footed effort from about 10 yards to make it 2-0.

“We’ve got two old-fashioned wingers, so we do look to get the ball out wide and then get it into the box,” said Wren. “It can be quite daunting when we put that ball into the penalty area and our guys go after it. Certainly, I thought we put them under pressure from the opening whistle.”

South Pointe came from behind to beat Rock Hill in penalty kicks earlier in the season and they showed that same fortitude to hang around in Tuesday night’s game. They had pace and power up front in Langston Kennedy and Josh Reid, and it was the latter that halved the Stallions’ deficit with a brilliant goal midway through the half. He controlled a long ball on the left wing, cut inside on his right foot and drilled a low sizzler past Cody Jones’ despairing dive into the corner to make it 2-1.

Northwestern’s lead was back to two within seven minutes, and it was a goal that summed up the Stallions’ costly defensive lapses. A South Pointe defensive clearance near the touchline was popped straight up and the ball bobbled into the goal by the keeper to make it 3-1, a lead the hosts held at the half.

“Little mental mistakes,” said Parnell afterward. “Seniors need to step up and play. They’re a good bunch of guys, they play hard. We’ve just got to get over a few little humps.”

Parnell’s team reacted well to a pointed halftime chat, and cut the lead to 3-2 in the first three minutes. Landon Davies forced a corner when Jones palmed away the senior’s near post shot, and Davies was first to the ensuing cross, stabbing the ball goalward. It appeared that Manny Lozano saved the ball on the goal line with his chest, but after about a minute of play, the referee conferred with his linesman and ruled a goal for the Stallions.

That decision fired up the fans, players and coaches alike and a testy game grew even more so when Kennedy was red-carded for fouling Welborn inside the penalty area when he was through on goal and looking to score. Trojan junior Connor Moore dispatched the spot kick into the left corner to make it 4-2 with 16 minutes left.

Wren’s side looked to have killed off the game when freshman Fortina Gordino ran onto a long ball and clipped a composed finish over the onrushing keeper to make it 5-2, but South Pointe still had time to nick a third and keep things interesting. Kyle Dix drilled in a low free kick to polish the scoreline.

Bret McCormick •  329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T

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