Aminah Johnson was trembling after Thursday night’s girls’ soccer match between Northwestern and Rock Hill.
The freshman just had a foot in all three second half goals that helped the Trojans overturn a two-goal halftime deficit for a 3-2 rivalry win. And then – with excitement still pulsing through her – Johnson gave an interview to a reporter.
“We were talking about how we knew we could do it … oh my gosh,” she said, turning away with a smile. Bullish on the field, Johnson is still bashful off of it.
Everyone – not just Johnson – seemed a little shocked.
After a pair of first half goals, it looked kike Gary Brannan’s Rock Hill team (4-4-1) would pummel the Trojans (3-7-1) at District Three Stadium. But Brannan, still seated on the Bearcats bench as the cavernous stadium emptied, was as surprised as anybody by the final result.
“All the sudden a little panic sets in,” he said. “And you just let them off the hook.”
Rock Hill took the lead in the 17th minute after Georgia Modla latched onto a Route One free kick right down the middle of the field, out-muscled a couple of Northwestern defenders and smashed past the keeper from close range to make it 1-0.
Rock Hill doubled its lead with six minutes left in the half. Modla was the architect, beating two Trojans down the touchline and squaring the ball to an onrushing Sierra Bell. She dispatched her shot first time into the net for a 2-0 lead just before the intermission.
Ashli Siggins halved the Trojans’ deficit in the 61st minute after Johnson forced a turnover in the Rock Hill defense and cut across a chasing Bearcat to draw a penalty. Siggins stuck the ensuing spot kick into the left corner to make it 2-1.
The PK puffed wind into Northwestern and the Trojans grew as the game went on.
Savannah Vinesett nearly broke through, only for Rock Hill keeper Morgan Durant to slide at her feet and snatch the ball. But Johnson pulled Northwestern level several minutes later, striding through a tiring Rock Hill backline and setting up Vinesett to tuck a tidy finish past Durant into the left corner to make it 2-2 with 10 minutes to play.
The game-winner was very similar, Johnson hanging on the shoulder of the last defender, running on to a through ball, waiting, waiting, waiting, then thumping a low shot into the corner for the improbable lead with only a minute to play. She had missed a similar chance only minutes into the game, but wasn’t about to blow it with the result hanging in the balance.
“I had to time it right,” Johnson said. “I was just thinking I have to do this for the team. For everyone around me and not just myself.”
Northwestern could have easily caved after a difficult first 40 minutes. Instead, the Trojans got a valuable win that gives them the head-to-head lead over Rock Hill on Region 3-4A’s fourth playoff spot.
“I was very excited at the half to see what these girls would do in this situation, how they would respond,” said Northwestern coach Jason Mouzon. “They play for each other and their effort and their attitude was what carried them through.”
Johnson is a standout in the making and she made her mark when Mouzon pushed her up front where she could flash her speed.
“Aminah is just a freshman so she has a lot to work on,” said Mouzon. “But she could be a very good player before it’s all said and done here at Northwestern.”
Georgia Modla – one of three Modla sisters in Rock Hill’s starting 11 – was strong up front, charging around, hassling Northwestern defenders and generally being a nuisance. It looked like she had Red Bull blood and the striker was well worth her goal and assist.
Northwestern plays at Gaffney next Tuesday, the first of three straight road games. Rock Hill only has one match in the next 18 days, April 1 against South Pointe.
Northwestern 3, Rock Hill 2
RH: Georgia Modla (17), Sierra Bell (34)
NW: Ashli Siggins PK (61), Aminah Johnson (70, 79)