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Tie gives Carroll 3rd place in conference

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By Kristin Beck

The Panthers’ soccer team had carried their fate in their hands coming into Tuesday’s match-up against Walton-Verona. Win and they would take the conference title. Lose and they would have to wait until next year to raise the banner.

Unfortunately for Carroll County (7-10-1), it just wasn’t meant to be as they tied the Bearcats (8-5-3) 1-1 at Panther Field. With the tie, the Panthers finished in third place and Gallatin came out on top for the second straight year.

“Wasn’t really the outcome I was looking for, but a tie is better than a loss, but this game, we really needed that win,” head coach Ben Crutcher said. “I was really proud of how we stayed going after it, continued to battle for the ball and scoring in the end, kept up the pressure. Just a bit unlucky.”

The first goal of the game came in the 25th minute on a shot by Walton-Verona’s Randall Smith from the right side of the goal. The ball hit Carroll keeper Michael Hedges in the hands and slipped through into the goal.

Bad news struck again in the last minute of the first half when Sergio Pascual collided with a Walton-Verona player and suffered an ankle injury that took him out of the game.

In the second half, the two teams battled back andforth for possession. The Panthers turned on the pressure in the latter 20 minutes, and their persistence finally paid off.

With about six minutes remaining, Taylor Byrd took control of the ball and kept after the goalie before finally punching it in, tying the game 1-1. Crutcher praised Byrd after the game for playing hard throughout and never giving up.

Following the goal, the Panthers attempted to get the ball back in to play quickly and strike again, but were unsuccessful.

Crutcher said he thought the defense played very well and did not make any mistakes. He also singled out Kaleb Nab for his play on defense. “I thought that Kaleb Nab really played well. It’s the first time he’s played a whole game on that D-line, especially coming back from that hip injury.”

Crutcher said his team has experienced a series of ups and downs this season. Missing out on the conference title and losing some of the games he thought they would win also has made it hard on the team. “I hate it for our seniors because I really wanted it for them.”