A bit of adversity wasn’t going to ruin Providence High’s perfect soccer record.
The Panthers, No. 1 in the Sweet 16, parlayed two Matthew Nozedar overtime goals into a 3-1 win against No. 6 Charlotte Catholic in a SoMeck 8 4A Conference match at Keffer Stadium on Monday. Charlotte Catholic evened the score on Sean Carlin’s tally on Ben Stockley’s assist with 10 seconds left in regulation, but Providence (14-0, 7-0-0) was up to the task in overtime with Nozedar, who finished the match with a hat trick, driving home a pair of goals.
“It was a difficult one because (Catholic) just scored at the end of the half and it put us back a little bit,” Nozedar said. “But like coach (Timothy Long) told us during preseason, we’ve got to run a lot and work hard and it paid off.”
Providence put Charlotte Catholic (9-2-2, 4-1-1) in a hole early when Nozedar converted Quincy Kroescell’s pass from the left wing into a left-footed blast from 12 yards out in the 10th minute. From that point, the Panthers’ defense and ball control maintained that advantage against Catholic’s attempts to get even until Carlin came off the bench to drive home the equalizer off Stockley’s pass in the box.
“We couldn’t lose here,” Nozedar said. “Charlotte Catholic is a great team, and we had to give it 100 percent. This game mattered everything to us right now.”
Providence wasted little time grabbing the initiative in overtime, with Nozedar sliding into Evan Pournaras’ pass for a left-footed tally in the 84th minute, then adding a header to the back post in the 93rd for the dagger.
“I was almost out of steam, but Evan Pournaras had a good run down the sideline and I used the last energy I had to get over there and get it in for my team,” Nozedar said. “The defender was coming over to my right side right in front of me, so I had to edge him to get it into the goal.”
Providence pushed the attack for most of the first half, pressuring Catholic’s defense to limit the deficit as the Panthers controlled possession with concise passing and dribbling. Providence’s defense was good when needed, with goalkeeper Matt Lauder turning away the most serious threat with a diving save early and the Panthers collapsing shooting lanes late as Charlotte Catholic mounted a last-minute attack on the net before intermission.
Charlotte Catholic turned more aggressive in the second half in search of an equalizer, but Providence limited the Cougars’ scoring opportunities by contesting possession.
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