Northwestern and Fort Mill cruised to region wins Friday night in Manchester Cup action at Manchester Meadows Soccer Complex. The 11th-ranked Yellow Jackets opened the night with a 3-0 win over Rock Hill, before the 10th-ranked Trojans handled a feisty South Pointe squad 2-0 in the nightcap on the Carlisle Field.
Over on the adjoining Brannan Field, women’s college teams were getting in some competitive offseason action; USC Upstate thumped Charlotte 4-1 in the evening’s first game, and Winthrop and Davidson played out a 0-0 draw in the second.
Northwestern 2, South Pointe 0
In the tighter of the two high school matches, Cesar Robles’ Trojans remained undefeated in region play (10-4, 8-0 Region 3) thanks to a pair of quality finishes. Junior Madeline Ramsey and sophomore Whitney Hunt hit belters in each half to give Northwestern a win on a night when it could have illuminated even more bulbs on the scoreboard.
“We definitely left a couple of goals out there,” said Robles afterward. “And credit to their keeper; she did an excellent job.”
Despite a flood of chances, Northwestern led by just a single goal at the half. South Pointe’s goal led a charmed existence in the first 40 minutes, though Stallion keeper Ashley Bryson certainly did her part with several show-stopping saves. She could do nothing about Ramsey’s opener however. The junior was given space at the top of the 18-yard box and let fly with a rip that found the top corner, via Bryson’s palm, for a 1-0 lead with barely two minutes played.
It should have been the first of four or five goals in the half, but wasteful finishing kept the score 1-nil. Helena Moore was in on goal but Bryson’s trailing leg denied her finish, before Lauren Watts’ curling effort from the left wing nearly found the far corner.
South Pointe (5-8, 3-6) had the ball in the back of the net after Cameron Davis’ teasing free kick into the box, but an adjudged foul on the keeper ruled out the score.
Northwestern poured on the pressure in the first half’s last five minutes. But Moore, Watts and Madison Gardner all missed good chances to double the Trojan advantage.
Robles’ team finally did double its lead 14 minutes into the second half. Watts’ cutback from the touch line was cleared to the top of the box, but only as far as Hunt, whose volley bounded in off the cross bar to make it 2-0.
“Very pleased with the buildup of the play,” Robles said. “The ones we did finish were probably the toughest ones to finish.”
Hunt turned provider four minutes later when she swept an inviting cross into Watts’ path, only for Bryson to deny the future Winthrop player with her legs. Amidst a late flurry of chances, South Pointe’s Kira Davis broke through Northwestern’s back line and bore down on goal, but Trojan keeper Rachel Gregoire denied her scuffed shot to preserve the shutout.
Fort Mill 3, Rock Hill 0
Fort Mill swept past Rock Hill 3-0 in the first high school game of the night. Ryan Morris’ Fort Mill crew played about 64 of the 80 minutes with 10 players, but that hardly mattered as they dominated possession en route to a Region 3 win. The Yellow Jackets eked out a 2-1 win over the Bearcats in the two teams’ first meeting on March 12, but Fort Mill was far more clinical Friday night.
“We were a lot more patient today,” Morris said. “We tried to play soccer.”
The manicured artificial surface unquestionably was more suited to Fort Mill’s possession style. The Yellow Jackets (12-3-1, 8-2 Region 3) took a quick lead when striker Bailey Rich scrambled home a low cross from the right wing with just eight minutes gone.
Morris’ side was reduced to 10 players with 16 minutes played when a Yellow Jacket saw red for abusive language toward the linesman.
“What is it about kids these days?” Morris asked rhetorically, shaking his head. “The first thing out of their mouth is to curse.
“We’ll fix that,” he quickly added.
The numerical disadvantage was barely noticeable though, as Fort Mill bossed the match and got the second goal its dominance deserved with 10 minutes left in the first half. McKenzie Davis got free in the right channel and cut the ball back for an onrushing Cassidy Parker to drill into the left corner of the goal.
Rock Hill’s D.J. Modla had the ball in the back of the net in the waning moments of the opening 40, but the goal was chalked off for a push in the back, and Fort Mill took a 2-0 lead into the break.
Fort Mill had a number of chances to gloss the score in the second period, but Rock Hill (2-11, 2-7) goalie Sam Petit made a number of brave saves in one-on-one situations. Alyssa Smith had the first of those chances with about 16 minutes elapsed, but Petit smothered the ball before she could shoot.
Madison Blaschke offered the next threat, the Yellow Jacket defender pinging a 25-yard free kick off the crossbar, before Fort Mill finally got the elusive third. Sophomore Graydon Nall found space on the right wing and floated a ball toward goal. Was it a cross or a shot? Either way the ball nestled into the far corner for the 3-0 final scoreline.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @Bretjust1T