Fort Mill Sports

Nation Ford yields 1st Region loss as shutout streak ends

Nation Ford sophomore Steen Halas, left, keeps the ball from Northwestern senior Cody Teal last week at Nation Ford.
Nation Ford sophomore Steen Halas, left, keeps the ball from Northwestern senior Cody Teal last week at Nation Ford.

After nearly 515 minutes of shutout soccer , the Nation Ford boys’ soccer team fell to Clover for its first loss in Region III-4A play this season.

The Falcons went six straight matches and 512 minutes when Clover breached their goal with about eight minutes left in the first half. Clover went on to a 2-1 win.

“It was a long time without giving up a goal,” said Nation Ford head coach Jon Jarrett.

“Our backs have played really well. The key to our shutouts is that we have been able to step in front of shooters and they haven’t been able to have a lot of open looks. We need to keep plugging away and continue to work hard and not assume anything or take anything for granted.”

Win over Northwestern

Earlier in the week, Nation Ford faced a very aggressive Northwestern team and came away with a 2-0 win.

Northwestern could be considered in a down year at 6-3-0 coming into the match. Nation Ford showed why it ranks in the top five in the state after coming out on the attack to control the ball. The first real possession Northwestern got, it went straight for the goal, but Falcons senior keeper Cooper Morris was on his game and stopped the attack about five minutes into the match.

Nation Ford also had early opportunities on throw-ins, but couldn't take advantage of a very crowded Northwestern box. The Falcons controlled possession often in the first 10 minutes getting two corner kicks.

Patience paid off as Nation Ford senior Kevin Garces scored for the Falcons. As the Trojans’ keeper came out of the box to defend on a play, Garces launched it right over his head to put Nation Ford up early.

After the Falcons' goal, Northwestern got more aggressive with its play and started controlling the ball more. The Trojans made several attempts to score, but Nation Ford was able to hold them off.

Nation Ford struck again with about five minutes left in the first half off a free kick from junior Brad Young that was headed in by sophomore Ben Tuipulotu to put the Falcons up 2-0. The second goal was a big advantage for Nation Ford against an aggressive Northwestern team that came out in the second half.

Northwestern threatened to score about four minutes into the second half, but again the Falcons' continued to fortify their in the box defense. Nation Ford had its opportunities as well, but didn't press as much as Northwestern, usually having just one-on-one breakaways to set up shot attempts. While Northwestern produced more of a scrum for the ball in which anything could have happened, Nation Ford did well in clearing the ball most of the time during those instances and getting out of trouble.

Despite its defense staying on guard for the majority of the second half, Nation Ford ended up playing keep-away as the match wore on and had fewer chances offensively than in the first half.

Nation Ford returns to play after spring break with a match at Fort Mill April 8.

Mac Banks:, @MacBanksFM