The rain was cold and the field was slick, but that didn't slow down the Nation Ford High offense as the Falcons dismantled Gaffney Thursday night, 8-0, to open region 3-AAAA play.
Nathaniel Enos opened the scoring with a goal in the third minute the match. He added a second goal late in the second half.
Gaffney had a chance to respond early in the match, but the Falcons' goalkeeper, freshman Carson King, stepped up and made an important one-on-one save.
"That was an excellent save. It really helped us keep the momentum early in the first half," Nation Ford Head Coach Elton Ramey said. "If they had scored that goal it could have changed the momentum, it could have been a different game."
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However, the save was made and the rout was on.
As the rain began to fall and the conditions worsened, the Falcons' offense clicked, dominating field position and aggressively attacking, as Nation Ford improved its overall record to 3-2 (6-3, including scrimmages).
"We played a lot better. We stepped up and had good communication," said Falcons attacker Harrison Totherow, who had two goals on the night. "Our team chemistry is really building up. We're getting a lot better."
Nation Ford played a three back system, an aggressive style of play in which there are only three main defenders and two midfielders who drop back and play defense when needed. This allowed the Falcons' offense to focus on attacking as long as they controlled field position, which they were successful at Thursday.
If it's not executed properly, however, the results could be disastrous.
"It's a system where you could get burned," Ramey said. "But our offense was attacking with seven players - it felt like we were attacking from everywhere. We kind of opened the floodgates on them."
Across the field, King had a stellar night in the goal, posting his fifth shutout of the season.
"Our defense has been playing well as a unit, helping me keep a lot of goals out of the back of the net," King said.
He said his strong start has really boosted his confidence but he is trying to remain focused as the Falcons step into what is arguably the state's most talented region.
"Our toughest games are probably ahead of us, but we can pull through if we play well as a team," King said.
With pairs of matches against third ranked Fort Mill and top-ranked Northwestern looming, Ramey said his team would be ready.
"We're excited to play these teams and we'll try to knock some of them off, too," Ramey said. "This is probably one of the toughest regions - hopefully we'll be more than just competition."