The goal might have been a fluke.
The defending was anything but.
Southern Nash earned an accidental goal but made good use of it, holding Northern Nash at bay for the entire 80 minutes in a 1-0 victory Monday at Northern Nash High School, the Ladybirds’ first Big East Conference victory of the season.
“I told them at halftime to keep putting pressure up and we’ll see what happens,” Southern Nash coach John Matthews said. “(The goal) was definitely a fluke and definitely luck, but we’ll take it.”
Goals had been hard to come by for Southern Nash (8-8, 1-6 Big East), which had scored two goals in six conference games until Monday, when luck was in the Ladybirds’ corner.
Christina Brooks received the ball on the right wing and carried possession deep into the Knights’ defensive third when she crossed the ball into the box hoping to find a red jersey for a header. The strike wasn’t much of a cross – it was too high and too close to the keeper – but the wind held up the ball, directing it perfectly over the head of Northern Nash goalkeeper Kennedy Brown, who didn’t have much chance to stop the shot.
Brooks didn’t know she had scored. She began running back into position to defend after she struck the ball, only to be surprised by a horde of teammates running to congratulate her on her 46th-minute winner.
“I was confused – I didn’t know what happened,” Brooks said. “They ran up and said, ‘You scored,’ and I said, ‘Oh, God, what?’”
Northern Nash (8-5-1, 2-5) controlled possession for most of the night, yet little materialized from it.
The Knights’ best chance, a 28th-minute free kick from Claire Fleming which Alexus Hill headed on net, was stopped by a sliding save from Southern Nash keeper Casey Liles.
“We were just outworked the entire night,” Northern Nash coach Joe McCarthy said. “We couldn’t connect passes, we don’t play with our head up. We did everything to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Even Matthews wasn’t sure the Ladybirds could see out the final 34 minutes after the goal, but Southern Nash played its best soccer after scoring.
The Ladybirds managed three shots on goal, but a bit of good luck and solid defending made shots a moot point.
“They had three shots the whole game, but the one they put in the back of the net is the one that matters,” McCarthy said.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com