The Machine was firing on all cylinders to land Eagles, 4-2
NASHUA – Mechanical failure.
The co-owner of the International Soccer Club of Nashua Eagles knew his team was in trouble, despite being up 1-0 at halftime on Saturday, when he saw Ella Njike suddenly arrive at Rivier University’s Raider field to suit up for Lynn United.
“I said ‘Damn’,” Jared Barbosa said. “He’s a good player, man. A good, good player.”
Barbosa’s instincts were correct, as Njike – nicknamed “The Machine” – went into overdrive and scored three goals in the second half to pace the visitors to a huge 4-2 win.
The loss puts the Eagles (7-3-2) in jeopardy of losing home field in next weekend’s first round of the United Premiere Soccer League (UPSL) playoffs. If Mass United can win two games this weekend, the Eagles will likely be on the road next Saturday.
“I think we were a bit disjointed in the second half, and probably were a little slower,” said Nashua’s top scorer on the season, Quincy Appah, who only managed an assist Saturday. “I’m hoping it was just one of those games. I still believe we’ll be hosting a game here.”
Lynn United was the more desperate team, and Njike’s willingness to get up to Nashua as fast as he could after he was done with his certified nurse’s assistant shift in Beverly, Mass., proved it.
“I left like 2:53, and I tried to make it on time (for the 4 p.m. start),” Njike said. “But there was a lot of traffic, so that’s why I could only play in the second half. I was, you know what, I’m already late, so I have to put in all the effort, all the energy. And it worked.”
It certainly did. Nashua led 1-0 at the half on former MLS draft pick Peguy Ngatcha’s goal, assisted by Appah, in the 45th minute. LU hadn’t shown any offensive strength, managing just one shot on Eagles goalie Kyle Connelly.
But that all changed midway through the second half. LU’s Lenir Lima scored in the 65th minute, and then The Machine took over. He headed one in five minutes later for the go-ahead goal, and then made it a 3-1 game in the 80th minute. For good measure, he scored again with 4:20 remaining before another five minutes was added. During that extra time, the Eagles’ Nate Gaw of Londonderry put one high into the net over LU second half keeper Ever Barrera (three stops) to account for the final.
“He (Njike) was the difference maker,” said LU coach Eric Moreno, who coaches Lynn (Mass.) Classical during the fall. “We knew that was going to be the case. We kept running and pressing, the other team opened up, and we took advantage of it. We needed the win.”
Much to the chagrin of ISC of Nashua coach Jerold White, who watched as Connelly was left defenseless in net for all four goals. His second half counterpart,
“Lot of pace on the wing, and we never took care of our defensive responsibilities,” White said. “We made Kyle (four saves) have to work a whole lot more than he needed to today. Hopefully we stay in second place and see these guys again next week or Mass United. But it was a bad one to go off on.
“Just the pace. We couldn’t keep up with the pace. He (Njike) was so wide, so much quicker.”
That’s why he’s The Machine. The Eagles will need a tuneup after this one.