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The Lady Panthers came out on the losing end Wednesday, Aug. 28, against a very evenly matched Lady Rebel squad. Both teams took 12 shots on goal. The difference? The Owen keeper had seven saves, compared to five saves for Carroll senior keeper Nicki States, resulting in a final score of 2-0 in favor of the Lady Rebels.
However, the Lady Rebels were much more physical than the Lady Panthers, especially early on. “It just amazes me that we can play so close to a team and yet still decide to get pushed around,” head coach Greg Damron said. “Not that Owen County did anything wrong in their physical play, it’s just that we just decided to take it. The girls need to get a fire in them and decide to play hard, to play a lot harder.”
The girls are very capable, but have decided that they are a second half team, Damron said. “They just have to make that fine switch and get out there and do it.”
Since the girls varsity teams played before JV, the game was broken down into four 20-minute quarters with 10-minute water breaks, rather than two 40-minute halves, due to the heat index.
About 10 minutes in to the game, Lady Panther sophomore Ciera Drake injured her arm as she drove the ball toward the goal. She was taken to Carroll County Memorial Hospital.
Damron said Tuesday the injury was a strain, and she will wear a brace for about a week. She has been released to play.
About three minutes later, States was involved in a collision in the goal and was shaken up. She had to sit out a play because time was stopped, and junior Teresa Garrett took her place in goal. Owen County attempted a corner kick, but the Panther defense kept them out, and States was able to substitute back in.
In the second quarter, Carroll’s best opportunity to score came about midway through the quarter when the Owen keeper came out to defend, leaving the goal wide open. Sophomore Kelsey Wallace ripped a shot, but it sailed just left.
The score was tied at zero at the half.
The first goal game in the seventh minute of the third quarter. Following an Owen throw in, freshman Hailey Chappell scored on a cross within the six-yard box, 1-0.
The Lady Panthers and Lady Rebels both controlled the ball in each other’s territory, but neither dominated the other.
Hoping to provide an offensive spark, Damron opted to move senior Kaylin Wallace from her sweeper position up to striker and move her sister, Kelsey, back to her position. Within the first two minutes, Kaylin Wallace was driving the ball down the field and took a shot just a little too early that sailed wide left.
“When we looked at how we were doing, we were staying stagnant,” Damron said. “There was nothing more we were bringing into the game than we had the entire time, so we thought, ‘OK, let’s change it up.’”
Damron said it was one of those decisions that would either go against them or help them. “Kaylin makes some good runs from the defensive end of the field all the way up to striker position, and we thought we would cut that in half … and give her a chance to really score,” he said. “In doing that, we brought Kelsey back to cover that sweeper spot. Kelsey, I think, is a universal type player. She can play striker, she can play defense, so we decided to do that.”
Still down a goal with less than five minutes remaining, Damron pulled States out of goal and replaced her with first-year player sophomore Miranda Groseclose.
“(Nicki has) been stuck in goal all these years, and if you got out to see her play in indoor leagues and stuff like that, she really does have a nice touch on the ball,” Damron said. “I want to give her that opportunity and, she wants that opportunity to play in the field and show what she can do out there.”
Damron pointed out that States is a senior and he would need to start getting his keeper options tomorrow.
“We were so stagnant and weren’t getting anything out of the group the way we had it, so we either chose to keep on going and doing the same thing or we try to change it to give us that opportunity (to allow) someone to step up.”
Unfortunately, the plan did not go as planned. The Lady Rebels scored their second goal on Groseclose with less than four minutes to go, leading to the 2-0 final.
“You’re just as good as that group is; just as good,” Damron told his team after the game.
Damron praised Kaylin Wallace for her defensive role, as well as her ability to give offense a try.
“Kaylin is a superb player, a superb athlete,” he said. “Having her back there on the sweeper position, she was built for that spot, she really was. She loves the physicality of putting a body on somebody and she doesn’t mind to put them on the ground. She’ll take a hit. Unfortunately what happens when you wind up in that situation is the girls – because she’s so physical, because she’s so active – some of the girls will defer. They’ll get beat (on the play,) and they’ll say, ‘Oh, Kaylin’s got it,’ and they’ll back off and let Kaylin take her. We’ve been trying to push Kaylin to not let them do that …”
Damron said he is challenging seniors Angel Martinez, Aleshia Winburn and Carley Hunter to not give up so quickly. “When it comes to next year, Kaylin’s not going to be back there,” he said. “They’re going to have to learn to work this out on their own.”
Despite giving up a goal, States blocked five shots heading her way.
“Looking at Nicki, watching her play, watching her develop, I feel Nicki is one of the strongest goalies in the district, if not the best,” Damron said. “I have not seen what the other two schools offer, but I think Nicki is the best goalie in the district.”
Damron said Groseclose, who is starting for the Lady Panthers, is doing well handling her new job. “(We’re) asking a lot of her with not as much high school experience, but she’s quickly picking it up and making a difference out there on the field,” he said.
Senior Alex Skirvin was “everywhere” on the field against Owen County, playing center mid, wing and striker.
The Lady Panthers hope to collect their first win of the season Wednesday, Sept. 4, in a rescheduled match at home against Southern High School. Varsity plays at 5 p.m., with JV following.