Goodwin’s offensive skills sparked a Hough season ‘to remember’

Boys Soccer Player of the Year

by Cliff Mehrtens

Nathaniel Goodwin, an all-state pick, scored 24 goals and had 14 assists for Hough High. He’s headed to UNC Wilmington. (Cliff Mehrtens/MIM photo)

Hough High’s Nathaniel Goodwin is the most dangerous type of soccer scorer.

If defenders didn’t play aggressively close to him, he’d boom thunderous shots on the net, or pick the perfect angle to slice in a goal. Evidence: 24 goals this season.

If defenders planned to swarm Goodwin, he used keen passing skills that opened shooting lanes for teammates. Evidence: 14 assists.

To him, it didn’t matter who scored, as long as it counted for Hough. Either way, Goodwin usually had a hand in it.

His combination of speed, skill and consistency sparked second-year Hough to a 19-2-2 record, and the I-MECK 4A conference championship. Goodwin is the Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s Lake Norman-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

Goodwin, a senior forward, was the centerpiece of a team that split its first two games, then went on a 20-game unbeaten streak (18-0-2). Coach David Smith stacked the nonconference schedule with ranked opponents. Goodwin and his team mates met the challenge.

“We played pretty well the whole season, other than the first loss and the last loss (playoffs),” Goodwin said. “We were all really consistent, and played really well together. It was definitely my teammates who helped me the most.”

Goodwin said the highlights were three goals in the first 20 minutes in the game against Mooresville on Senior Night, the game against powerful Charlotte Catholic (a 2-1 win), and scoring on free kicks against Hopewell and Weddington.

Smith said Goodwin’s injury late in the season was a huge blow.

“If he doesn’t get hurt on Senior Night against Mooresville, our season goes a lot longer,” Smith said. “That’s not taking anything away from the rest of our team, that’s just how special he was this year. He was hitting a groove at that point. He’d come back from a concussion. It took him a game or two, and then he was lights out the rest of the way.

“He’s one of the most special players I’ve ever coached, because of his consistency every day in practice, and every single game. The way he approached it, the way he led spoke volumes about him as a kid and a player.”

Goodwin helped Hough to a 13-0-1 record in the I-MECK 4A conference. He was named to the all-conference, all-region and all-state teams for the second consecutive season.

“He along with Santiago Patino (all-state midfielder) were our marquee players,” Smith said. “They both were held in high regard by other coaches in our conference. The way Nathaniel was consistent week in and week out, that’s huge. I think he helped the other kids on the team raise their game, which is something you can’t always quantify.”

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