FORT MILL — The Nation Ford Falcons boys’ soccer team is into the home stretch of the season after splitting matches this past week.
The Falcons had three matches scheduled, but only got to play two of them after a match against York was canceled because of severe weather. The Falcons beat Indian Land 1-0, but were edged by Northwestern 3-2 in overtime in a key Region III-AAAA battle.
With about 37 second left in overtime, Trojans’ junior Connor Moore scored the game winner on a penalty kick.
The two teams had seen each other recently in the Manchester Cup, which Northwestern won on penalty kicks. However, because the game was somewhat of a glorified exhibition, it counted as a tie in the standings after both teams let it stand that way after regulation. They went ahead with the penalty kicks more or less for fun.
“We played them a little bit better on Saturday,” said Falcons head coach Elton Ramey. “But I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. They put it all on the line tonight. They have come together this season like you wouldn’t believe.”
In their latest match, at Nation Ford, it was the Falcons who struck first.
While jockeying for position, neither team seemed to grab control early. That was until the Falcons got the best of Northwestern as junior Jonathan Strilka scored off a throw-in to put Nation Ford up 1-0.
Despite the early goal, the Falcons didn’t start dominating as each team went right back trying to grab the upper hand. Northwestern did play more aggressive after the goal and was able to control possession more. The Nation Ford line would hold strong however, and force the Trojans into attempting several corner kicks in the first half.
Even during an attempted penalty kick, the Falcons’ defense was able to figure out Northwestern’s trickery. Nation Ford created the habit of stacking the box with players as the Trojans struggled in penetrating their defense.
The Trojans came out in the second half and controlled possession early getting off a shot, but Falcons senior keeper Josh Bruckner was able to gobble it up. Bruckner had to stay on his toes all night as he made 11 saves, including two big ones early in the overtime period.
Defensively, Nation Ford always seemed to be in the right place at the right time stopping the Trojans’ charges.
That was until Trojans junior Julian Welborn made the best of a pass kicking it into the right side of the goal before crashing into the post to tie the game at 1-1 about the 51 minute mark. Welborn would leave under his own power and return shortly thereafter.
The Falcons would answer back shortly as senior Austin Huddy would make a path down the left side of the field to score and put Nation Ford back up just seven minutes later.
Northwestern then went on the attack and tried to up their aggressive play, but the Falcons matched their intensity as play had to be stopped on a couple of occasions as players from each team would end up getting banged up.
The extra burst of energy would help as the Trojans would eventually tie the game with about 11 minutes left on a breakaway as senior Austin Newman would score for Northwestern.