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Light rain fell from the sky Wednesday night as the Carroll County Lady Panthers battled the Frankfort Lady Panthers in their first home soccer game of the season. Not only did they share mascots, but the two teams were evenly matched on the field as well. So it was not surprising that the final score would also be identical, 0-0.
Carroll (0-3-2) head coach Greg Damron said he was hoping for a win, but would settle for a tie. The second year program is still searching for its first-ever win, but has tied twice this season. The team did not manage any ties last season, showing how much the team has improved in just one year.
“We’ve definitely improved,” Damron said. “It’s just getting to the point now where trying to get everybody in is difficult because you want to try and build that core unit … So I tend to try and keep everyone on the field for as long as I can. Fortunately, the JV season added allows the girls to get some extra play time.”
Before the game, Damron said he had to shift some players around and gave first-year player senior Andie Hardesty the start at forward and moved freshman Kirsten Arvin to midfield. “She did a good job,” he said. “She worked hard, just some experience skill there that she needs to pick up, but she did a good job with it. Kirsten in the middle distributed the ball well, just tended to get sucked up there a bit too high or too low.”
Throughout the game both teams had opportunities to score, but neither could connect. Damron praised keeper sophomore Nikki States for her work in the goal, despite the ball being slippery from the rain. He said she did a good job of blocking the shots and staying with it when she was not able to squeeze the catch on the first try. He also pointed out that those times when she could not get a hold of it, the defensive line dropped back and helped protect the goal. “Nikki got a lot of support from the defensive line on that, so I was extremely pleased with our defense. Even though they got a couple good runs, we managed to hang on to it and played well.”
Another defensive player Damron highlighted was junior Raenah Hawkins. “Raenah Hawkins, who suffered an injury at Martha Layne Collins, came back this week, felt a lot better, and she really stepped up tonight,” he said. “On thatdefensive front line, she was deadly. She contained the ball well and just tried to distribute the best she could and did a really good job at it.”
In the first half, both Carroll and Frankfort (1-6-1) had opportunities to score, but seemingly played a game of kickball, in which a player would kick the ball far into the other team’s territory, but no teammate would be there to receive the pass.
Frankfort’s junior Shanae Brown and sophomore Tika Shaw penetrated the home team’s defense multiple times, especially in the first half, but their shots were off the mark. Damron said he had his defensive line playing 20 yards back from where Frankfort picked up the ball. He adjusted in the second half by putting his defense in a diamond formation to cut down on the through balls.
On the offensive end, Carroll seemed to settle down in the second half and distributed the ball better, especially on its through balls. However, he said he would like his team to work on passing the ball one step. The players have a tendency to hold on to the ball for one step too long before passing or taking a shot, which can lead to the opponent stealing it away.
Damron said his team communicated better as a whole, but he would like to see his forwards talk more. There were a couple occasions in the second half where both junior Lidia Jimenez and junior Nora Fremin would battle each other for the same ball rather than letting one person take it and the other run up for a pass.
“Lidia today was hustling and Nora, they just need to communicate a bit more, but really to be honest, offensive line, they hustled their hind ends off and took a lot of shots,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time before they start scoring on those shots.”
Damron also complimented senior Brittany Arvin on her play. “Anywhere I put her on the field she just makes a difference. She controls the ball well and she does a good job.”
Overall, Damron said he was happy with how his team played and the progress they have made this season. “The girls are seeing more,” he said. “I’m having to spend less time trying to say ‘Look at this option’ or something like that; they’re starting to see it on their own before I have to stop the game and try to explain something to them.”