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To say that Nate Howard has been on a roll for the Northern boys soccer team would be an understatement.

Howard scored another two goals to send the host Patriots to a 3-0 shutout win over visiting county rival Calvert on Wednesday night.

Howard, who scored the eventual game-winner in the 37th minute, now has six goals on the season and the reason he’s been on fire? Blame it on Chopticon.

“Chopticon really lit a fire in my stomach and Rossi’s been telling me to play differently and it seems to be working because … I’ve been scoring,” Howard said of the season-opening 1-0 double-overtime loss to the Braves. “I’ve just been composed and been trusting myself.”

Since that game, Howard has scored two goals each against Thomas Stone, Leonardtown and the Cavaliers. Howard has six of Northern’s 10 goals this season.

“He’s really been working on keeping things simple and not trying on taking on too many people himself and he’s finishing,” Northern head coach John Rossi said of Howard. “He’s doing a great job. He’s a really hard worker, he puts it all out there on the field and he sacrifices it all for the team. When you put in that hard work usually you get rewarded for it.”

The win was the third straight for the Patriots (3-1, 3-1 SMAC).

“I think Calvert every year they’ve been improving and they’ve had some really nice players and they seem pretty well coached, so it’s a good win,” Rossi said. “They’ve been putting up some pretty good results, so it’s nice to come out with a victory. And it’s a rivalry game, so you never know because those are pretty feisty games.”

“It was all right,” Northern’s Daniel Zilevicius said of earning the victory. “I’m glad we came out with a win, but it wasn’t the prettiest win. I think we could have had more intensity, but overall I’m glad to get the win.”

The Cavaliers (2-2-1, 2-2-1) came into the game on a two-game unbeaten streak, but first-year head coach Doug Jones said his team just wasn’t playing together.

“We weren’t connecting the dots,” Jones said. “We weren’t playing what we practiced. We weren’t playing together. Yes, I am [surprised]. You have the rival games and they get up for it, but sometimes the emotions get so high they get blinders on. It’s just growing pains.”

Howard opened the scoring in the first half when he took a pass from Ryan Phelps and whipped a shot into the far corner. He netted his second of the game when he took a throw-in from Michael Gullion and turned and lofted a shot over Calvert goalkeeper Brady Santerre (9 saves) in the 50th minute.

“I don’t know what was going through my head, but Mike yelled to me, ‘Just shoot it,’” Howard said. “I didn’t exactly feel good about it because at first I thought it was going high, but then it just went in.”

Santerre made some highlight saves throughout the game, but his best one of the game was all for naught. Forced to retake his penalty kick after Northern players entered the penalty area, Matthew Schwartz’s line drive was batted out by Santerre. But Schwartz moved in unimpeded and lifted the rebound over the befuddled goalie.

“He made the save and we got caught watching,” Jones said of his defense. “It’s unfortunate because you make a wonderful save like that and the guy just stands there and puts it in without any pressure from [our defenders]. It’s disappointing.”

While Howard and Schwartz were supplying the offense, the Patriots defense held Calvert to two shots on goal and both were from a long way out.

“I basically control the defense,” Zilevicius said, “but my marking backs Michael [Gullion] and Sean [Dryhurst] did real well and I’m proud of them.”

Rossi and Zilevicius both went back to the Chopticon game as the ignition point to his team’s season.

“I think Chopticon kind of lit a little fire under us and ever since then, we’re learning more and playing better,” he said. “I like where we’re at now but I’ll tell you Monday [after we play at Huntingtown at 6 p.m.]. It’s a solid start to the season, but I wish we had the Chopticon game back, but that’s also what’s sparked us.”

“I completely agree because after that we were all mad and we never want to repeat that,” Zilevicius said, “so ever since then we’ve been training harder in practice.”

mreid@somdnews.com

Northern 3, Calvert 0

Calvert 0 0

Northern 1 2

Goals: Northern (Howard 2, Schwartz)

Saves: Calvert (Santerre 9); Northern (Dawes 2)