The Nation Ford Falcons and the Northwestern Trojans boys’ soccer teams know each other about as well as two soccer teams can.
With the two teams meeting each other for the second time in five days, it was a match-up that really no one knew what to expect. Northwestern had beaten the Falcons 3-2 on penalty kicks in the semi-finals of the Bryan Ostrower High School Soccer Showcase last Sunday in a high scoring affair.
On Friday night it was different for both teams as Nation Ford edged out the Trojans for the 1-0 win. The lone goal for Nation Ford came with about four minutes left in the game as the Falcons got a free kick on goal. Nation Ford’s Luke Marin launched the ball from about 45-yards and as the Trojans’ keeper came out to defend, he came a little too far and the ball bounced passed him and into the goal.
“We have to just grind out wins,” said Nation Ford head coach Kenny Halas.
A scoreless first half put the onus on both teams to make something happen in the second half. Each team played well in the first half, but Northwestern controlled possession more and got off a few more shots on goal than the Falcons.
Nation Ford didn’t go without getting their looks either as in the final eight minutes of the first half the Falcons had three shot attempts, two of them coming on free kicks. The closest Northwestern got to a first half goal was having the ball bounce off the top crossbar of the goal.
“The second half we started stretching them thin a little bit,” Halas said. “Ryan (Halas) had three or four good saves in goal to keep us in the game.”
The second half started with the Trojans getting a free kick about two minutes into play, but failed to convert. Northwestern added another free kick about 10 minutes into the second half and then a corner kick. Despite the opportunities, the Trojans weren’t able to convert those shots into a goal.
Nation Ford’s defense played better in the second half after making adjustments and didn’t allow the Trojans to control the ball or the clock as much. As the game wore on, Northwestern’s chances of scoring increased with two corner kicks about the 17th minute mark left in the game. One key in the second half for Nation Ford was doubling the ball every time it got near the box and clearing the ball on corner kicks with a defensively sound mindset.
Halas said his team is going to be competitive in every game this season and feels like he has already had a pretty strong nine games as Nation Ford improved to 6-3 overall on the season with the win.
Up next on the schedule for the Falcons is a home match March 10 against Catawba Ridge.
Nation Ford girls’ lacrosse wins
The Nation Ford girls’ lacrosse team opened up Region 3-5A play with a 15-6 win over Boiling Springs on the road Friday night. Nation Ford is now 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the region.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep