Recognizing assistant coach Jim Bell's anxiety before Prince George's Community College's men's soccer game Monday, sophomore forward Machel Millwood asked what it would take to calm Bell's nerves.
The coach's reply seemed like a tall order: "Seeing you pull the ball from the net following your second goal."
Millwood, calm as always, had no problem with the request. He scored three goals in the Owls' 3-1 victory over Raritan Valley of New Jersey as PGCC advanced to Saturday's NJCAA Division III semifinals. The performance gave Millwood, a Parkdale High School graduate, 37 goals this season.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Millwood also has 10 assists for the 17-4 Owls, who are ranked sixth in NJCAA Division III. PGCC will play Holyoke (Mass.) Community College on Saturday in Garden City, N.Y., and with a win would play for the national title on Sunday.
In the 20 games he has played, Millwood has been shut out only once and has six three-goal games. Millwood has scored eight goals in PGCC's three postseason victories.
"He has a unique ability to put the ball in the net every third time he touches the ball," PGCC Coach Richard Todaro said. "And the other times, it results in hard shots. . . . He is a very subtle guy. I used to get on him for being lazy, but then I realized his game is all about lulling his opponent to sleep and then exploding."
Millwood has excellent speed, a soft touch on the ball and a hard left-footed shot. He is also as cool and relaxed on the field as he is off of the field, and that might be the biggest key.
"Composure is the most important thing" for goal-scorers, Millwood said. "Any player can get in front of the goal. It is your mind-set that makes the difference."
Born in Jamaica, Millwood made the under-16 national team there, then moved to Maryland in May 1996. He joined the Parkdale soccer team midway through the 1996 season and made an immediate impression. He scored more than 30 goals total during his junior and senior seasons, and was named first team all-Prince George's County.
"I remember him very vividly," said George Kallas, the coach at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. "He was exceptional. Very tall, fast, and skillful--he was a man playing in a boy's game."
Millwood did not take the SAT, limiting his college choices, and ended up at PGCC. He had a team-high 11 goals last season as he played through several injuries.
"We felt he was a typical product of U.S. soccer," Todaro said. "He was talented, but he was not highly noted because he wasn't in the [Olympic Development Program] or anything like that."
By the end of the spring semester, Millwood will have enough credits to transfer to an NCAA Division II, Division III, or an NAIA school. If Millwood stays longer at PGCC and gets an associate of arts degree, he could transfer to a Division I school in the fall of 2001. He would have to sit out the 2000 season.
Millwood said that he has not decided what he will do, but Todaro thinks that he definitely has Division I potential.
"Right now I'm just focusing on my work," Millwood said. "I'd like to finish up school and get a transfer, but I don't know where. I definitely want to play soccer for a couple more years."