Peyton Marion might have had a hard time falling asleep Tuesday night. Or maybe he slept better than he ever has.
Marion scored with about a minute left to give South Pointe a 3-2 boys’ soccer win over Northwestern on Tuesday night, the Stallions’ first win in school history over the rival Trojans.
“My goal wasn’t that great,” he said. “I was in the right place at the right time. It was amazing to be there and score the winning goal.”
Stallion senior Josh Reid’s goal with 13 minutes to play put the hosts in front 2-1. But Northwestern (9-1-2) dominated the next 10 minutes of the game, equalizing through Alan Taylerson’s flicked header and hitting the post or crossbar three times. It felt like so many other games when Northwestern hadn’t played its best but reared its killer instinct and put a wasteful opponent to the sword in the game’s closing moments.
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David Parnell’s South Pointe (4-3) side was able to nick a famous win late when the Trojans failed to clear their backline and the ball squirted through to Marion, who dispatched a low finish first time into the far corner, setting off wild celebrations for the white and red.
“We’re up 2-1 and everybody’s going and we have the momentum, and then we drop back,” said Marion. “Once they got that second one it took a lot out of us, and it showed great character for us to come back and get that third.”
“It feels amazing to be able to win,” Reid said afterward, still winded from celebrating. “For all my team to put in all the hard work from the start of the season, it’s just been amazing.”
South Pointe was lethal in front of goal all night; that included Reid, who scored a smart second.
“We knew we had to be aware when it came to scoring in this game because we knew we weren’t going to get many chances against a great defense such as Northwestern,” he said. “So we had to stay alive in the box and take our chances.”
Tuesday night was South Pointe’s last shot at Northwestern this season, after losing 2-1 in the teams’ first meeting. About 15 minutes in, Reid was fouled after a mazy run and midfielder Luke Snider’s free kick was pushed aside by diving Trojan goalie Cody Jones. At the first half’s midway point the Stallions won a corner kick and Will Brandon ghosted past his defender and side-footed Snider’s dead ball into the back of the net from close range to make it 1-0.
The game really heated up in the second half. Trojan captain Manny Lozano troubled South Pointe all night with long throw-ins and towering free kicks, and one such dead ball from near midfield found Julian Welborn, who stole in at the back post and finished off the crossbar to tie the game seven minutes into the second half.
Charlie Robles nearly put the Trojans in front shortly after, thumping a header off the crossbar. But every time Northwestern looked set to march on, South Pointe regained a grip on the match.
Typical of a spicy encounter full of tackles, Reid dug out a loose ball for Marion, whose shot just rose over the bar with about 18 minutes left. The action went straight down the other end and South Pointe keeper Ricky Blackmon stone-walled Welborn 1-on-1 to preserve the tied score.
South Pointe showed its cold-blooded streak in front of goal again with 13 minutes remaining. The Trojans had two chances to clear a free kick, but when the ball came back into their penalty area a third time, Reid corralled it and steered a low drive past Jones and into the left corner for a 2-1 lead.
Typical of a program so used to success, Northwestern kept charging. The Trojans won a free kick about 25 yards out, left of goal, and Lozano hooked in a juicy ball for Taylerson to stoop and flick a header into the opposite corner for the equalizer with nine minutes left.
The betting man might have thrown down a wad on the Trojans pushing on for the winner, but luck wasn’t on the guests’ side Tuesday. Wide man Will Hughes floated a cross off the left post with about five minutes left, and Logan Welborn’s thunderous follow-up rattled the crossbar before the Stallions cleared to safety.
“It was like a relief to see them hit the post,” said Reid. “Me and the boys were working so hard tonight that it would have just been depressing to lose this game.”
Welborn’s was the kind of shot that tends to find the back of the net for Northwestern. “It normally does,” said Parnell. “We got lucky, and you’ve got to give to our keeper, Ricky. This is a field player that stepped up for us with our main keeper down for the season with a back injury.”
Instead, Marion scored the game-winner several minutes later.
“You have to give all credit to South Pointe,” said Northwestern coach Dom Wren. “It was a fantastic game of high school soccer.”