A halftime adjustment translated into two second half goals for Northwestern, which scored a 4-2 victory over rival Rock Hill in an intense boys soccer match at District Three Stadium on Friday.
Northwestern took a 2-0 lead, but Rock Hill used two goals from Pablo Arzaluz to tie the match, 2-2, and take plenty of momentum into intermission.
The Bearcats’ momentum, however, was countered when Trojans coach Dominic Wren changed the team’s offensive game plan.
“I told them that we needed our forwards to play a lot wider,” Wren said. “And our two second half goals were made from that position. That allowed us to spread them out defensively and get us in one-on-one possessions.
“We also wanted to get them out of the box a lot more (to allow less Bearcats defenders around the goal).”
The strategy led to freshman forward Caleb Moore with the ball in the far left corner of the box. He was able to use a nifty one-on-one maneuver to get past a defender, and then, shot the ball past another before Bearcats goalkeeper JD Raad made the stop just across the end line.
As the Trojans celebrated, the Bearcats fans pleaded for the umpire the rule the stop before crossing the goal line. However, the end result was a 3-2 Northwestern lead with 35:04 remaining in the second half.
“Caleb is just a freshman and he really stepped up to the plate and had an outstanding second half,” Wren said.
Moore said that he felt he had the quickness to make the move.
“Coach did tell me to be stronger in the second half,” Moore said. “I knew what I was going to do beforehand, but everything just happened so fast.”
Trailing 3-2, Rock Hill remained on the attack, and nearly tied the score when Bearcats forward Michael Udeze got in the Trojans’ box and dribbled past the diving keeper Cody Jones. The shot, however, sailed wide left of the open net at the 23:43 mark.
Both teams went back-and-forth with intensity until the Trojans scored the clinching goal when freshman Erwin Salazar got possession of the loose ball within the box and shot it over the head of Raad, the Rock Hill keeper, for the 4-2 lead.
Bearcats coach Wayne Clark said that his team played with plenty of effort, but credited Northwestern for a solid second half.
“We worked hard to get back into it before the half, but Northwestern came out with more intensity in the second half. They are well coached and they have a good team.”
Northwestern (10-7 and 6-1 in Region 3-AAAA), also got goals from Jacob Youngblood and Julian Welborn, which resulted in the early 2-0 lead. Rock Hill, whose two goals came from Arzulaz, dropped to 9-5 and 4-3.
NORTHWESTERN 4, ROCK HILL 2
1 half-(NW) Jacob Youngblood goal, 35:12.
1st half-(NW) Julian Weldon, unassisted, 13:45.
1st half-(RH) Pablo Arzaluz, assist from Joel Watson, 11:23.
1st half-(RH) Arzaluz, assist from Michael Udeze, 5:33.
2nd half-(NW) Caleb Moore, unassisted, 35:04.
2nd half-(NW) Erwin Salazar, unassisted, 12:40.