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Friday was an emotional night at Panther Field for the Carroll County boys’ soccer team. The Panthers bid farewell to their seven seniors—Devin Gray, Erick Lewis, Junior Martinez, Kaleb Nab, Sergio Pascual, Kevin States, Ian White—who would be representing the black and gold for the last time.
Carroll struck first, but not often enough to pull out a victory, falling 5-3 to the Covington Latin Trojans (7-10).
“We just didn’t come out ready to play, in my opinion,” head coach Ben Crutcher said. “We weren’t quite focused; I don’t know what exactly they thought as a team coming into this game. I know the seniors wanted to win it, but at the same time, it just didn’t look like they wanted it as bad as Cov Latin did.”
While Crutcher acknowledged that there could have been some fall off from Tuesday night’s game in which the team was unable to defeat Walton-Verona to win the conference, he said the team has lacked focus throughout the year. “They’re a good squad, they just had trouble clicking all on the same page,” he said. “…It’s been up and down like that all season. As a coach, for me, it’s been extremely frustrating to see us drop games to teams that I know we should have won. But they did improve over the whole season. They got a lot better with their passing. We still struggled with talking, but they did a lot better with their passing, so I was real happy about that.”
On Friday night, Carroll sophomore Taylor Byrd scored the first goal of the game on a cross by Lewis with about six minutes gone in the opening half. However the Trojans struck right back and scored three goals in about 24 minutes, including one on a corner kick.
In the 36th minute, the Panthers worked the sidelines and Martinez executed a perfect cross to sophomore Michael Hall for a header into the goal, 3-2.
Coming out of halftime, Byrd scored again within the first five minutes to tie the game. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Trojans would score on a penalty kick following a whistle for a handball in the box in the 19th minute. Ten minutes later, Covington Latin led a breakaway to Carroll’s end of the field and scored, 5-3.
The Panthers finished the season with an 8-11-1 record. The team defended their Two Rivers Invitational title, defeated conference rival Gallatin and defeated Owen for the first time in the program’s history in the Owen County Invitational.
Crutcher shares a special bond with this group of seniors, especially White, Lewis, Nab and States, whom he has coached since they were in sixth grade.
“They know what it’s like to be on a team that doesn’t win a single game to a team that won four games then ten games and then this year they won eight so they’ve put us on the map as far as a program to be taken serious,” Crutcher said. “I’m proud of them; I’m glad that they’ve stuck with it through the hard times, and I’ve been there for the great times. It’s been good having them for the program and I’m hoping next year’s juniors can maybe step up and the sophomores will take more of a leadership role. We’ll see what happens.”