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After falling behind 1-0 in the opening five minutes, the Panther soccer team rattled off five straight against the visiting Henry County Wildcats (0-2) for their first district and conference win of the season Monday night.
Head coach Ben Crutcher said he thought his team (2-2) came out a little slow, but was not worried about that first Henry County goal because he attributed it to his team being tired from their doubleheader Saturday.
“Michael Hall had a great game, Brandon Stewart is always solid, Taylor Byrd was solid tonight,” he said. “I really thought that JD played really well, pretty much our whole midfield played pretty solid. D-line did a decent job, just little things we need to work on. It wasn’t a bad win to be a district opener and conference game, so it felt pretty good to get that one under our belt.”
Hall, a junior, led the Panther attack with a hat trick, scoring two goals in the first half and one goal in the second.
“He’s just a great little striker; he always seems to be in the right place at the right time,” Crutcher said. “He’s quick, gets on defenders’ nerves because he refuses to back off the ball. He’s just smart with the ball. He does a lot for us, not just scoring, he always draws a lot of attention off the ball, so it opens up things for our midfielders like Brandon and Mark (Ogburn) and Paul (Cuevas) on the outside.”
Following the Wildcat point, the Panthers went on the attack, getting multiple shots on goal. Finally, at the 16-minute mark, Stewart found the back of the net, getting things started for Carroll County. About four minutes later, Damron was fouled and awarded a free kick. He sent the ball in toward the net, and Hall attacked, 2-1.
With about 27:30 gone in the first, Hall took the ball the length of the field, dodging and sprinting past the Henry County defense, to score his second goal.
In the second half, Cuevas had the ball deep in the box and was confronted by the Wildcat goalie. Byrd snuck in and was able to squeak the ball past and into the net, 3-1.
Cuevas scored a goal of his own with about 27 minutes gone off of a corner kick by Brandon Stewart that he chest bumped into the goal.
About four minutes later, Hall scored his third goal, allowing Crutcher to clear his bench.
One area the head coach said he would like to see his team improve on is finishing on their shots and scoring.
“We take a lot of shots, we’ve just not converted on a lot, so we just need to learn how to do that,” he said. “... Part of that is we, as coaches, haven’t worked on that a lot in practice, due to the fact that we really want to emphasize to our guys first touch is important, defensive play is important, playing the position properly is important, so we’ve not worked on a lot of finishing drills, so that’s probably where that is coming into play a little bit. But for the most part I’m not overly concerned with finishing because I know I’ve got guys that can score.”
The Panthers played Shelby County at home Tuesday, but results were unavailable by press time. The boys take on district and conference rival Gallatin County on Thursday at home.