Josh Reid’s first-half strike proved the winner for the South Pointe boys’ soccer team as it slipped past Nation Ford 2-1 Wednesday night.
The host Falcons graduated a number of key contributors off last year’s team that reached the Class AAAA state finals. But they tasted defeat Wednesday after struggling to create offensive chances.
“They were solid,” Nation Ford coach Elton Ramey said about South Pointe. “They moved the ball better than us, they pressured better than us. We made some adjustments that helped in the second half, but just finding the back of the net has been a struggle for us.”
That didn’t appear to be an issue early on after Nation Ford (3-4, 2-1 Region 3-AAAA) sophomore Nick Jordan put the home side in front with just six minutes played. Freshman Michael Smith sent a ball into the six-yard box and Jordan capitalized on a moment of hesitation from the Stallion backline, chesting the ball past onrushing South Pointe keeper Ricky Blackman and steering it into the open goal.
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“A little mix-up,” said South Pointe (1-2, 1-2) coach David Parnell, adding that the turf made the goalie’s read tougher. “The ball just came off crooked.”
South Pointe’s equalizer came about five minutes later. Stallion junior Ely Younce carved out some open room on the right side of the penalty area and fired across Falcon goalie Cameron Roberts and into the far left corner of the net to tie the match, 1-1.
With the fixture all square, Reid, who will play soccer at Queens University in Charlotte next fall, intervened with about 8 minutes left in the first half. He broke behind the Falcon defense and angled away from the goal before snapping a shot across his body, off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal past Roberts. It was a lightning bolt, eventually a game-winner, and not just any old hit-and-hope.
“I saw the keeper off his line so I knew where I was going completely,” Reid said afterward.
“He hit just the opposite shot against Northwestern,” said Parnell, who is getting used to those kinds of finishes from his speedy senior.
South Pointe showed lethal coldness with its finishing. While Ramey’s crew made sharp adjustments at the half to mitigate the danger Reid posed, the Falcons were unable to seriously threaten the visitors’ goal. Starting three freshmen in the attacking third of the field makes things difficult for the defending state finalists.
“We’re very good, but we’re very young,” said Ramey. “Some of them are learning to play at this level. It’s not the talent, but when you talk about physicality, speed, size ... we’re probably the shortest team in the conference.”
Nation Ford’s plumpest chances came from deep-lying positions. With about 16 minutes to play, a throw-in to the center of the park sat up nicely for Garrett McFadden, who struck a half-volley just over the goal, before Falcon senior Jonathan Strilka hooked a right-footed effort around the post and wide. That was as close as it came for the hosts though, another lesson as they continue to grow and develop as a young team in an unkind region.