Northern Nash boys’ soccer coach Joe McCarthy has said for the past two years that the Knights are young.
He can’t use that excuse anymore after Monday night.
In a coming-of-age game, the Knights dominated play and possession against former No. 1 Wilson Hunt and pulled off a surprising 3-0 upset in their Big East Conference opener.
But McCarthy will be the first to say that the Knights still have room to grow.
“We’re still young,” McCarthy said of his team that starts only one senior.
Northern Nash (4-2-1, 1-0 Big East) needed just six nonconference games to match its win total from last year. With Friday’s all too convincing upset, the Knights already have won more games this season than they did all of last season. McCarthy’s disciplined squad finally is buying into their head coach’s plan.
“The ones that are juniors have bought into the system we’ve been trying to work on for three years,” McCarthy said. “We’re starting to see some of it come together now.”
The Knights’ structure allowed them to be persistently ruthless offensive and stout on the defensive end, except when goalkeeper Ben Roy had to bail them out a time or two late in the second half to preserve Northern Nash’s second shutout of this year.
“We’ve preached defending to these kids,” McCarthy said. “When they were freshmen we took our lumps. ... (Defense) sets up a good offense. We defend really well. I think we can defend with anybody. If we can defend for a whole 80 minutes that’s even better. We showed we could do that (Monday).”
The Knights scored less than nine minutes in when Jose Rodriguez settled a throw-in off his chest and left the ball for Tucker Daughtridge. Daughtridge walked through the 18-yard box and beat the Wilson Hunt goalkeeper low to the far side.
Tyler Jones, the Knights’ lone starting freshman, scored in the first 10 minutes of the second half by cleaning up a scrum, and Rodriquez, the team’s only starting senior, added his own goal on a cross-turned-shot in the final four minutes.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and getting the freshmen ready,” Daughtridge said. “It paid off.”
Wilson Hunt (5-2-1, 0-1) was ranked as the No. 1 team in the state for much of last season and dominated the Big East Conference, never losing a game. Northern Nash, who McCarthy said could easily be undefeated, won just once in conference play and lost twice to Wilson Hunt by a combined score of 19-1.
“It’s just showing that we can hold our own,” Jones said.
There was a reason McCarthy called the game unbelievable after the final buzzer sounded. But the monumental victory wasn’t celebrated with cheering.
Instead, the Knights lined up on the edge of the 18-yard box, making sure there were an equal number of players on either end.
They gave two claps before McCarthy started to speak and two more after. That makes four – one more than the number of games they won last season.
“It shows these guys to believe in their capabilities,” McCarthy said. “That’s the biggest thing that I want them to do, and not to accept losing. It took us quiet a while.”
Northern Nash 3
Wilson Hunt 0
Goals: NN – Tucker Daughtridge; Jose Rodriguez; Tyler Jones.
Assists: NN – Rodriguez.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org