Rodriguez’s late goal lifts Northville past WL Central in district semifinals
Novi – Over the course of his last two games played at Novi’s Meadows Stadium, including Thursday’s match, Northville’s Johnny Rodriguez had some of the better games of his season, but unlucky breaks kept the Mustang’s junior from finding the back of the net.
Rodriguez had three shots bounce off the crossbar in a win over Novi a couple of weeks ago and on Thursday evening, Rodriguez very nearly gave the Mustangs a second half lead, but a free kick bounced off of the crossbar once again, keeping the game scoreless for the time being.
But with 5:36 left to play in Thursday’s district semifinal game against Walled Lake Central, Rodriguez finally found of the net as he sent a shot over the Central keeper and in to put the Mustangs on top 1-0 as the score would hold up to be the final.
“I saw the open space, I knew I was going to shoot it once I got it,” Rodriguez said. “I had a feeling I was going to score a goal.”
“I would have been so mad if I wouldn’t have scored,” Rodriguez joked when asked if it was about time he scored at Meadows Stadium.
Northville head coach Henry Klimes said that he was pleased that his team came out with the win, but said he wasn’t happy with its performance on Saturday and added that the Mustangs need to play better in order to win in Saturday’s district final.
“I think Walled Lake Central started to play more defensively, they kept dropping back, which created a little bit of space on the side,” he said. “Johnny sort of got the rebound pass off and he was just missing on a few occasions and finally he turned and had a great shot and I loved to see it go in, I’m happy for the boys, but I’m not happy with their performance. I didn’t think we played to our potential, give Central a lot of credit for how they played defensively and played a very good counter attacking game and they played their hearts out. But we need to play better if we’re going to be successful on Saturday.”
Throughout much of the game, Northville kept the pressure on Central, keeping the ball in the Viking’s own end for the majority of the contest and putting together the vast majority of the scoring opportunities that the match saw.
Northville turned up the pressure even more in the final 20 minutes as the Mustangs had two very good opportunities on corner kicks with less than 18 minutes left to play, but were turned away by Central keeper Michael Krenzer.
Central head coach Joel Sharpe said that he felt his team wasn’t able to control the middle of the field like the Vikings wanted and also weren’t able to get a ball over the top of the Northville defenders on counter attack chances, which kept the Vikings from mustering much offensively.
“We wanted to try and take their outside backs away as much as possible and be able to possess through the midfield,” he said. “But they (Northville) weren’t giving us the mid like we thought we could get and we couldn’t flight a ball out there, I don’t know if it was the grass or not. I think that is what hurt us, because they’re very good in the air in the back and we just didn’t get that ball over the top.”
Northville now advances to the district championship game, where it will face the winner of the Novi-Detroit Catholic Central game, on Saturday at noon back at Novi-Meadows Field.