MAULDIN -- Northwestern's Dennis Moore has played in the shadows of teammates Alex Martinez and Ricky Garbanzo scoring-wise throughout this spring's Class AAAA boys soccer playoffs.
Not on Wednesday night against Mauldin in the Upper State championship game. Moore scored a goal in each half, all the Trojans needed in their 4-1 victory over the Mavericks.
Northwestern, 26-2, ranked No. 2 in the state and the two-time defending state champion, plays No. 1 Irmo in a rematch of last year's title game at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Columbia's Memorial Stadium. The Trojans won last year's championship game, 3-1. Mauldin, No. 4, ended its season at 17-7.
Moore took a pass from Will Mux and made a run from the right side with 25:35 left in the game and with the scored tied 1-1. He never slowed while charging Mavericks' goalie Charlie Harned, racing toward Mauldin's keeper like a runaway train on an icy track.
He cocked his leg five yards out and drilled the ball in the back-left corner of the net for a 2-1 Trojans' lead. Harned never had a chance for a save.
"I was going as fast as I could,'' Moore said. "If I had slowed or let up, it would have allowed him to get into position. By making the run, I got him off balance and was able to kick the ball past him.
"The goal put us ahead for good, but this was another example of our team doing what's needed to win. We got two more goals after mine and they took the pressure off us.''
At the 15:08 mark, the Trojans scored the goal that gave them a 2-point cushion and pretty much slammed the door on Mauldin. Martinez sent a shot home for a 3-1 Trojans lead. And with 4:52 remaining, Garbanzo ensured thoughts of a comeback were merely a dream for the Mavericks, scoring with a straight-on goal and a 4-1 Trojans' lead.
"Dennis took two difficult shots that ended with two outstanding finishes,'' Trojans coach Dom Wren said. "But what he provided for us the most was a huge boost of senior leadership. You have to give Mauldin credit because they gave us everything we had. But we held on and got an outstanding game from Sam Faris, our keeper.''
Just under nine minutes into the opening half, Moore was free 12 yards out and straight on against Harned after a pass from Ryan Foster. Harned moved up a step and prepared for the ball, hoping it was reachable or blasted into his gut.
Moore seemed to be reading Harned's mind.
Instead of trying to zip the ball past, Moore got under it an lofted a shot over Harned's head for the only goal of the first half.
The first half wasn't typical Northwestern soccer as far as time of possession and shots taken. The Trojans had several good flurries on Mauldin's end, but none but Moore's goal amounted to much.
Mauldin was the aggressor and took the ball right at the Trojans, playing on Northwestern's side most of the half. The Mavericks, who led in shots 7-2 at the half, had three very good scoring opportunities, but a combination of good defense and being off target kept the Trojans in the lead.
Mauldin took a good shot at the 23:52 mark just outside the right post.
A shot much like that one was taken at 15:39 and more on target. But Sam Foster moved in front of the right post for the save.
Foster is usually the loneliest Trojans' player on the field because seldom do opponents reach double figures in shots. The Mavericks outshot Northwestern 16-10 and Faris has a season-high seven saves.
"You hate any time the other team gets in position to score,'' Faris said. "And on the other hand you want to show people your abilities. As long as you keep the other team from winning, a game like this is fun.''
Mauldin's most painful miss was a close shot from the left with 10:42 left in the half. Alejandro Bedoya broke free and fired a shot that was headed into the right corner of the net. Faris dove to his right, and while parallel with the ground, got his hand on the ball and knocked it away.
Mauldin continued its constant attack as the second half opened, missing a pair of close shots inside the first four minutes. But at the 34:38 mark, Mauldin's Ignacio Monchetti picked up a loose ball just outside the box and fired it past Faris to tie the score, 1-1.
Less than two minutes later, the Mavericks missed again and had outshot the Trojans 5-0 to start the final 40 minutes.
NORTHWESTERN 4, MAULDIN 1
N - 31:52, Dennis Moore, assist Ryan Foster
M - 34:38, Ignacio Monchetti, unassisted
N - 25:35, Moore
N - 15:08, Alex Martinez, unassisted
N - 4:52, Ricky Garbanzo, unassisted
Shots on goal: Northwestern 10. Mauldin 16
Corner kicks: Northwestern 3. Mauldin 4
Goalies: Northwestern - Sam Faris (7 saves). Mauldin - Charlie Harned (2 saves)
Records: Northwestern 26-2. Mauldin 17-7
Read more: http://www.heraldonline.com/2010/05/20/2182106/trojans-to-defend-title.html#ixzz0oRPGDZ8M