Two diving saves in an overtime penalty shootout by Northwestern senior goalkeeper Cody Jones helped the Trojans defeat Irmo High School on Sunday afternoon in the final match of the inaugural Bryan Ostrower Soccer Showcase.
Northwestern converted four of their five spot kicks to win the invitational tournament at Manchester Meadows over the defending 4A state champions by a score of 0-0 (4-3 on penalties).
I was just thinking Ive got to do this for my team, Jones said. I had to make sure I stayed focused and do it for all the guys that play further up the field.
Entering yesterdays final with wins over Clover and Indian Land, coach Dominic Wrens Trojans came out firing early and often at an Irmo defense that bent but never broke.
Charlie Robles bullet header, narrowly flashing wide from a corner after five minutes, set the tone for an end-to-end affair for a packed crowd at Brannan Field. J.D. Collins cross picked out defender Devin Young at the far post minutes later, but his volley effort found the wrong side of the netting for Northwestern fans.
Irmo beat the Trojans 2-1 last year in the 4A playoffs.
Theres definitely a target on our backs, being defending state champions, said Irmo coach Matt Brophy. Are we there right now? No way. But its preseason and its gonna get there.
Yellow Jacket Ryan Smith smacked a 25-yard hopeful shot wide of the Northwestern goal with ten minutes left in the second half before Weston Garners strike kissed the top of Jones crossbar with one of the last kicks of regulation.
I think what this shows us is that we showed a lot of mental strength, especially to go all this way and into the shootout, said Wren. Having the two best teams in the state, its great that we met in the final.
After both squads found the net in the first two rounds of the shootout, Jones dialed in on Irmos Luis Arredondo and Michael Sawyer, going down low to keep their efforts out. By the time Carl Brophy converted the winning shot, the entire Trojan team rushed to embrace their keeper for his part in winning the preseason tournament.
It gives us a lot of confidence going into the season, Wren said. This is a very experienced team and this kind of event shows us our strengths, weaknesses, what we need to improve. Were gonna get a lot better by the end of this season.
Saves: Northwestern-4, Irmo- 1
Corners: Northwestern-4, Irmo- 1
Yellow cards: Irmo: 1 (JT Tarakenge), Northwestern 1 (Connor Moore)