City League Roundup: Northland boys soccer squad savoring success

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Northland's Roland Ohene Ntow controls the ball in front of Whetstone's Sam Garcia on Sept. 30. The Vikings were 7-0 after beating Walnut Ridge 9-0 on Oct. 8 and outscored their first seven opponents by a combined 30-4.

The Northland boys soccer team did its best not to bat an eye when the City League suspended athletics for two weeks in late August because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, players like junior midfielder Roland Ohene Ntow stayed positive.

“In the preseason we were working really hard, and we didn’t quit,” Ntow said. “We practiced individually by ourselves.”

That determination has been paying off since the season resumed for the Vikings.

Northland was 7-0 after beating Walnut Ridge 9-0 on Oct. 8 and will be one of the highest seeds for the City tournament. A year ago, Mifflin beat Briggs 2-0 in the City final. 

Teams in the City are not playing in the district tournament this fall after they began competing Sept. 14.

The Vikings outscored their first seven opponents by a combined 30-4.

“We’ve been doing really well and look great,” coach Mahamoud Samantar said. “They’re getting better and better every day, and that’s the most important thing.

“(The preseason suspension) happened to everybody. The players know each other, kept in touch, came back here and we’re back.”

While Ntow is leading the team in assists and had one goal and three assists against Walnut Ridge, senior forward Parjal Tiwari had eight goals through seven games.

“We’ve started to play with more chemistry, passing the ball, moving the ball around and we’ve just come together,” Ntow said. “We’re not trying to leave anything. We’ve come together as a family and are doing whatever we can to win.”

Stars volleyball 

team growing

The Centennial girls volleyball team has remained competitive following a runner-up finish in the City-North Division last fall despite having just one senior.

“We have such a young team, and the experience really isn’t there yet,” senior right-side hitter Joy Chambers said. “Helping each other and growing as a team is the thing we’ve had to do. We play aggressively. We just have to keep it up throughout the whole game and always have to encourage each other. We know we’re there for each other.”

The Stars, who improved to 6-2 with a 25-11, 25-22, 25-11 win over Northland on Oct. 12, have matches remaining Monday, Oct. 26, at home against Mifflin and Wednesday, Oct. 28, at home against International.

Although teams in the City aren’t competing in the district tournament, there is expected to be a City tournament.

“It’s been going pretty well,” junior outside hitter Toni Sfikas said. “I feel like our chemistry is going a lot better this year and we’ve been working well. There hasn’t been a bad energy. It’s been good energy.”

Centennial, which has five freshmen on its roster and is coached by Brittani Lewis, went 13-8 last fall.

“After (our second match) things started feeling a bit back to normal,” Sfikas said. “Everything felt weird in conditioning (because we didn’t know what was) going to happen, but once we started playing, it’s been OK. We have five freshmen and just four returners, so we’ve been teaching each other.”

Beechcroft's Danielle Nunley, a setter and the team's top server,  returns a shot Sept. 21 against Northland. The Cougars were 3-5 before facing the Vikings on Oct. 14.

Cougars volleyball 

team is ‘committed’

The Beechcroft girls volleyball team has continued to mature throughout an abbreviated season that includes an all-City schedule, according to assistant coach Matt Bell.

“We have a very committed group of young ladies,” Bell said. “They come to practices and games every day and work hard to get better.”

The Cougars were 3-5 before facing Northland on Oct. 14 and Mifflin on Oct. 19 and will play host to International on Monday, Oct. 26.

Seniors on the team include Angel Coles (defensive specialist), Ray Ann Jenkins (outside hitter) and Ta’Aliyah Palmer (outside hitter).

Junior Danielle Nunley is the setter and the team’s top server, with junior defensive specialist Zion Wilson leading the defense and junior middle hitter Stella Emeran-Simon also playing a key role.

“I’ve been very impressed by the level of dedication these young ladies have displayed this season,” coach Mandy Cox said. “We have a lot of girls that show true athleticism and grit. Where they’re lacking in volleyball knowledge they make up for with dedication and hard work. I’ve really enjoyed working with this group of young ladies.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek