ROCK HILL — What is usually a reward for Conner Moore for superior practice performances ended up being even more rewarding for the Northwestern Trojan boys soccer team on Friday.
Moore used penalty kicks to score both Trojan goals during regulation of the regular-season finale against cross-town rival Rock Hill at District Three Stadium.
When the match deadlocked, 2-2, after regulation and two five-minute overtime periods, Moore added the game-clinching kick during the penalty-kick shootout, which the Trojans won with a 4-2 advantage.
It is usually a reward at the end of practice; with a certain amount of goals (during the practice sessions), I get to do penalty kicks, at the conclusion of the workout.
That ended up giving Moore plenty of preparation during the shootout after a defensive showcase in the second half and two overtime periods.
That was different than the first 30 minutes, when both teams combined for four goals and a 2-2- tie. With the Bearcats being carded in the box twice, Moore was given the opportunity to face off with the Rock Hill goal keeper, Alex Clary, on two occasions.
The first attempt found the left corner of the net for the 1-0 Trojan lead in the 25:00 mark of the first half.
Rock Hill, however, bounced back three minutes later when Charles Coulson got a rebound in the box and shot an attempt past Trojan goal keeper Cody Jones.
Coulson struck again at the 10:00 mark by bouncing a header shot above two Trojan defenders and into the net for the 2-1 Bearcat advantage.
Prior to intermission, another card was whistled against the Bearcats in the box, allowing Moore his second penalty kick. Once again, he got the kick past the Rock Hill goal keeper to even the score, 2-2, which remained at the half.
Both teams buckled down defensively during the second frame with both goal keepers, Jones of Northwestern and Clary of Rock Hill, displaying clutch performances at various points.
That led to tense and exciting moments, particularly with both teams having several near misses. One Northwestern attempt bounced off the top of the goal with 11:00 remaining.
The smothering defensive display did not surprise Northwestern coach Dominick Wren.
We knew it would be a tight second half and that this would not be a blowout, Wren said. Rock Hill has a quality team that does a good job defensively. I dont think we could have done anything more during regulation.
After two scoreless five minute overtimes, the match had to be decided on penalty kicks.
Austin Newman of Northwestern and Rong Taing of Rock Hill were successful on the first penalty kick frame.
Bailey Woolley scored for the Trojans on the second attempt, but Aldamir Elvirs attempt sailed inches high of the goal on the second Rock Hill try, giving the Trojans a 2-1 penalty kick edge.
During the third session, Northwesterns Manny Lozano and Rock Hills Pablo Arzaluz both found the net; as did Justin Welborn and Coulson during the fourth attempts.
With the Trojans holding the 3-2 edge on the fifth and final session, Moore booted the game-winner to keep Northwestern unbeaten in Region 3-AAAA with a 14-0 record.
All I did was to zone everything out and just focus on the net, Moore said.
I always pick my spot right before I approach the ball during the kick.
Bearcat coach Wayne Clark saluted his team for an outstanding effort, particularly on defense in the second half.
However, he said that the bounce of the ball, particularly during the lone penalty kick miss, proved costly.
Rock Hill, which falls to 9-9 overall and 6-7 in the region, needs to defeat South Pointe in a winner-take-all situation Thursday at District Three Stadium.
The winner of the make-up regular-season contest will advance to the state playoffs while the loser will be eliminated.
Northwestern 2, Rock Hill 2 (Trojans win 4-2 on penalty kicks)
NW Conner Moore scored on penalty kick (25:00)
RH-Charles Coulson goal (23:00)
RH-Coulson goal (11:00)
NW-Moore scored on penalty kick (25:00)
Penalty Kicks: NW won 4-2.
Records: Northwestern 14-0 in Region 3-AAAA; Rock Hill 6-7 in region.