Northwestern High School’s boys’ soccer team was tired of being pushed around -- literally and figuratively.
With only three games remaining on the schedule, the Wildcats had yet to register a marquee victory, and coach Nigel Trim felt his team was worthy of one.
“We needed to beat one of the top teams. We lost to High Point, we lost to Bowie,” Trim said.
Monday afternoon at Northwestern High, Parkdale unwillingly filled the role of the unlucky opponent in the Wildcats’ breakthrough victory. Northwestern scored on two penalty kicks and deposited four second-half goals in a 5-1 blowout of Parkdale (8-3) to mix up the standings at the top of the Prince George’s County 4A League in the final week of the regular season. Parkdale was the 4A South Region runner-up last season, and on Oct. 6 the Panthers beat defending region champ High Point, 4-3.
“We needed some sort of victory against a top team to give us confidence,” Trim said.
Northwestern freshman goalkeeper Zach Morgan made nine saves in a physical game. After losing a similarly physical 1-0 contest against Bowie last week, Northwestern (7-3) once again asserted its presence with rough play.
“If you’re going to play with us, prepare to have a physical game,” Trim said. “The message is there that we’re not going to be a doormat. I’m tired of being a doormat. We’re looking to get in the group with everyone else, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Seven of Morgan’s saves came against Parkdale’s star defender Brandon McKoy. The strong-footed back took the majority of the Panthers’ 22 free kicks in the game, and as long as the ball was spotted on Northwestern’s side of the midfield line McKoy sent them toward the goal. Curling left and right, each one was impressive, but the 6-foot-1 Morgan was ready for them, punching the shots out of harm’s way. In the first half, with Northwestern leading 1-0, it appeared one of McKoy’s kicks might have bounced off the crossbar and tipped into the net, but play continued without a goal call.
“It was pretty difficult to get them,” Morgan said of McKoy’s shots. “He kicked them pretty high. His kicks traveled a little bit farther and harder than ones that I’m used to. You have to have certain things going for you when you’re a goalie, but I think training is the most important thing.”
In the second half, the teams combined for three goals in a 5-minute span. Northwestern’s Samuel Kahsai scored on the Wildcats’ second penalty kick of the afternoon to extend the lead to 3-0. One minute later, Parkdale’s Jason Manzanares answered with an easy tap-in that resulted from one of McKoy’s free kicks. The celebration on the visiting sideline was short-lived, however, as Northwestern’s Jose Ceballo scored the prettiest goal of the afternoon with a strong 25-yard shot into the top left corner of the net to extend the lead to 4-1.
“We just couldn’t get into the rhythm,” said Parkdale coach Dalitso Chinkhota. “That’s the biggest number we’ve lost by in a long time. That first goal, and the second goal after that, really took us out of it.”
Parkdale’s backup goalkeeper Angel Maza entered the game after Northwestern’s third tally, and was injured after being kicked in the ribs. He walked to the sideline, but soon collapsed and paramedics were called to take Maza to the hospital in stable condition. Maza came on in place of starter Arutro Lucero, who left with a wrist injury. Earlier in the game, Northwestern’s Leder Ayala was struck in the head from 2 feet away by a ball McKoy attempted to clear. Ayala’s eye and ear were badly swollen, and he did not return to the game.
Mood-dampening injuries aside, Northwestern scored a pivotal late-season win to boost morale.
“After this game, we’ve gotten pretty confident. I feel like this was an important win for us,” Morgan said.
Northwestern 5, Parkdale 1
Parkdale (8-3) 0 1 1
Northwestern (7-3) 1 4 5
N: Christian Arevalo, penalty kick, 32nd minute
N: Araya Sloan, assisted by Edwin Arias, 42nd minute
N: Samuel Kahsai, penalty kick, 61st minute
P: Jason Manzanares, assisted by Foday Kamara, 62nd minute
N: Jose Ceballo, assisted by Osman Conteh, 66th minute
N: Conteh, unassisted, 78th minute
Shots: N 9. P 21.
Shots on Goal: N 8. P 10.
Saves: N Zach Morgan, 9. P Arturo Lucero, 4.
Corners: N 1. P 4.