by Chris Hunt
Sometimes, the measure of an athlete’s worth isn’t what he does on the field, but how his team performs when he’s not in the lineup. If you share this opinion, then you’ll understand why Hough High’s Nathaniel Goodwin has been named Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2010 Lake Norman-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Goodwin was one of the big surprises for the first-year program entering I-MECK 4A conference play. But in his first league match, Hough’s leading scorer injured his groin, and he tried to play through the next five games until the pain forced him out of action for three weeks.
After collecting eight goals and 10 assists in his first 14 games, Goodwin missed six I-MECK 4A contests, and Hough (12-13-1) sputtered down the stretch, dropping four of its last five matches to finish sixth in the league.
“Without Nathaniel, we had a hard time finding offense,” said Hough coach David Smith. “Without him, it seemed like the guys felt like they were down 1-0 before the start of the game.”
Goodwin returned for the final regular-season game against Mallard Creek, and his year was extended when the Huskies were awarded the final wild-card spot for the Class 4A state playoffs. With a second chance, Goodwin sparked the Husky offense with three goals and three assists in four playoff victories before the team fell to Myers Park, 4-0, in the semifinals.
Hough’s playmaking junior completed his shortened 2010 season with 11 goals and 13 assists. Goodwin’s most memorable shot was the game winner in overtime of the third-round contest against Mallard Creek. It was his second goal of the game, and it sent the Hough home crowd into hysteria.
“Scoring a game-winner is probably one of the best feelings you can get, but doing it in the postseason is even better, especially when you are doing it for your teammates and your school,” said Goodwin.
Before the 2010 season, Goodwin was better known as the little brother of North Mecklenburg High boys soccer star Ryan Goodwin, who now plays for the University of South Carolina. But after the Huskies’ remarkable playoff run, the younger Goodwin is drawing some attention of his own from college programs such as the Charlotte 49ers, High Point and Davidson College.
“He has such pace with the ball,” said Smith. “He doesn’t have blinding speed, but he doesn’t slow down with the ball at his feet.”
Another great season could mean even more college recruiters appearing on Goodwin’s doorstep. But before he thinks about college, Goodwin said he has some team goals to take care of in 2011.
“My future goals are to get the team to finish higher than (this past) season,” said Goodwin. “Obviously, we set the standard high, but I’m excited about next year.”