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After facing stiff competition the previous weekend in the Franklin-Simpson Invitational, including battling then-third ranked Trinity (Louisville), the Carroll County boys’ soccer team returned to their home field to take on Cooper High School Thursday night. Unfortunately for the Panthers, it was not a successful homecoming as the Jaguars won 3-2 in the inaugural matchup between these two teams.
The first score of the game came in the eighth minute when Cooper headed the ball into the net off of a corner kick.
Carroll answered four minutes later when the Panthers drove the ball deep into Jaguar territory. Senior Erick Lewis battled the keeper for the ball and Lewis won, kicking the ball into the back of the net, 1-1.
Cooper regained the lead on a score into the left corner of the net by senior Ethan Goodrich about midway through the half. But Carroll answered two minutes later when sophomore Michael Hall took a high pass from Chase Osborne and scored, 2-2.
On the very next possession, Cooper drove the ball straight down the field and scored to give them a 3-2 advantage.
“I think, especially the first half, we really passed the ball well, played our wings and offered support,” Carroll head coach Ben Crutcher said. “Our defensive line played well, holding that off-sides trap.”
While the first half almost looked like a shootout, the second half was all about aggressive defense and missed opportunities.
From the start of the game, the Panthers defense executed its off-sides trap almost flawlessly, frustrating the Jaguars. Both teams were very aggressive, a little too much so at times. The referees issued a few warnings at the beginning of the game for pushing before handing out yellow cards to multiple players. Cooper head coach Steven Richardson also received a yellow card at the end of the first half for arguing with the referee.
With about five minutes to go, Crutcher changed the Panthers’ strategy. He moved a midfielder up on the front line and used two strikers to try and generate an offensive push. Unfortunately, it was not enough.
After the game, Crutcher praised Lewis and Hall for their goals and for staying after the ball. He also said junior Jay Damron and senior Junior Martinez did a good job on the outside. “Overall, (Cooper) wanted it a little more than we did,” he said.
Crutcher said the Panthers learned a lot from their game with Trinity, including how the Shamrocks drop the ball and work it from side to side, which should help his team in the long run.
“I knew if we played our game and did what we were supposed to, we’d come out on top,” Crutcher said, “but we fell a little short.”