By Harry Lichtman
SILVER SPRING — With many Montgomery County boys soccer teams getting set for the MPSSAA Playoffs in good shape, two schools with so-so records faced off in a make-up game Monday evening, as the Northwood Gladiators (5-6-1) beat the Springbrook Blue Devils (1-11) 2-1 at home.
This match was originally set for the beginning of the season, until rain postponed it to a later date. The game got postponed again due to rain, before finally moving to Oct. 22, right before the Maryland Class 4A Playoffs began. The coaches referred to this as a “practice game.”
“It wasn’t a very tidy game,” said Northwood head coach Nigel Trim. “It was scrappy. We have a lot of injured players, but they found a way [in the] second half to pull out a victory.”
The game started out scoreless for nearly the first 38 minutes of the first half, as the game went back and forth with a few shots on goal – mostly from the Gladiators.
However, with over a minute left in the half, senior Eddie Lannone netted a shot past Northwood’s goalkeeper for the score and the 1-0 lead for the Blue Devils at the half.
But Springbrook’s lead didn’t last very long, as Jason Weinfield sent a rebounded save off the Blue Devils’ junior goalkeeper Carlos Choppin into the net for the equalizer, with the score knotted up at 1-1 10 minutes into the second half.
Then, with under 10 minutes to go, Northwood struck again – when a corner kick resulted in a Weinfield header into the net to give the Gladiators the 2-1 lead.
“I think we played well for a good 75 minutes,” said Springbrook head coach Darrell Gonzalez. “I think we really fell apart towards the end. I think if we would have just stayed consistent and defended better, I think we could have put out at least a tie today.”
Weinfield proved to be the hero for Northwood, as his two second-half goals sealed the deal in the end.
“We need him going,” said Trim. “He needs those goals to give him some confidence, and hopefully our next playoff game against Sherwood, he can come through again.”
Trim says that his team needs to improve on experience for next season. “We have a very young team,” he said. “Only four seniors, and a majority of players are sophomores and juniors, so I hope that they’ll get a full year of playing together.”
Despite giving up two goals in the second half, Choppin still made some impressive saves in net.
“He had a good first half,” said Gonzalez. “He had a good 75 minutes. I think that he played well. I think he kept us in the game.”
Both teams will be playing in the 4A North No. 4 bracket, where number five-seeded Northwood will face the number four-seeded Sherwood Warriors on Thursday, while number six-seeded Springbrook will face the number three-seeded Paint Branch Panthers on Friday.
“We just have to continue to be consistent,” said Gonzalez. “If we can continue the hard work we did [during] the 75 minutes, we can prove that we can compete with teams in the county.”