A Southfield Christian mid-fielder was locked on Plymouth Christian Academy forward Jordan Machonga tighter than the Eagle's own shadow as he maneuvered through traffic during a Michigan Independent Athletic Conference showdown Oct. 13.
That is until Machonga executed a smooth stop-and-go move seconds before a slick cross-over gave him a little breathing room.
As he cruised up the west sideline, drawing ever closer to the 18-yard box, Machonga was greeted by two more defenders, both of whom were also left in his wake by a series of moves that sparked cheers from the Eagles' grandstand.
Once Machonga closed to within striking distance of the goal, he pulled up and launched a tight laser that was hugged by the SC goal-keeper.
Although Machonga didn't score, he left a lasting impression on the visiting team's psyche.
The Eagles' senior captain has been an offensive threat the past two falls for PCA, leading the team in scoring with 18 goals in 2008 while topping the assists chart this season.
Machonga's family tree is planted not far from a soccer pitch. His dad, Larry, is the co-coach of the Eagles along with Evan Baker; his older brother, plays for Division II Erskine College in Due West, S.C.; and his younger brother, Ryan, is a rising star on the PCA middle-school team.
"My brothers and I always played together growing up, so I think it made us all better," he said. "I've loved playing soccer since I was a little kid. I've always liked the team part of it."
During the high school off-season months, Machonga has competed the past several seasons for elite club teams, including Vardar and the Canton Celtic.
"I usually play defense for my club teams," he said. "Playing forward (for PCA) helps me when I go back to club because my ball-control skills are better and I get to be more of a leader on this team."
Larry Machonga feels blessed to have the opportunity to coach sons in the past (Bryson), present (Jordan) and future (Ryan) at PCA.
"When my older son graduated, I knew I would miss that experience of being able to coach him, so being able to coach Jordan the past few years has made it that much more special," he said. "And to have another one on the way, well, that's pure joy.
"Being able to watch Jordan play and develop both as a player and a person has been a privilege. The greatest joy for me is seeing the way he's grown spiritually and ethically as a young man. He has a great competitive spirit about him -- he wants to win -- but when the game's over, whether we won or lost a close one, he's like, 'Let's move on.'"
Along with maintaining a 3.5 grade-point average in the classroom and playing soccer, Machonga is also a kicker/defensive back for the Plymouth Christian football team.
"It keeps me busy," he said. "I usually have soccer from 3 to 5 (p.m.) and then football from 6 to 8. It's definitely helped my conditioning."
Like his older brother, Machonga has his sights set on playing collegiate soccer. He has already entered into preliminary discussions with Palm Beach Atlantic (Fla.), Spring Arbor and Huntington (Ind.) College.
Ed Wright can be reached at
email@example.com or (734) 453-1980.