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Corydon Central forward Isidro Chavez kicks in the Panthers' lone goal against Jeffersonville. The score was assisted by Cory Thomas (11). Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

Jeffersonville closes Panthers' season

October 16, 2013 | 10:39 AM

The obvious indication of the favorite in the Class A Floyd Central boys' soccer sectional became clear last week when Jeffersonville rolled Floyd Central 9-2.

With the blind draw for sectional, Corydon Central was selected first up to attempt knocking off the Red Devils in the opening round.

Holding strong defensively then trying longer passes to provide counter-attack opportunities, Corydon Central gave Jeffersonville a run it may not have expected. The match was tied at 1-1 until the Red Devils converted a penalty kick in the 30th minute to take a 2-1 lead. Jeffersonville would hang on and add two second-half goals to end Corydon Central's season with a 4-1 score.

"We made some mistakes, but this game was closer than the score indicated," Corydon Central coach Jeff Salomon said. "We tried something different, and we pretty much got the same result we usually get against Jeff. But we tried."

Jeffersonville got on the scoreboard first in the sixth minute. Isaiah Salazar played a ball toward the far post to an open Leonard Kwitonda. Beating the Corydon Central keeper, Kwitonda put the Red Devils on top, 1-0.

Corydon Central didn't waste time trying to get the goal back. Grant Robinson played a through ball to Cory Thomas. Dribbling around defenders at the end line, Thomas snuck a pass to Isidro Chavez, who put away a goal beyond Luis Arredondo.

The equalizer came in the eighth minute. Then, near the midway point of the opening half, Corydon Central nearly took the lead. Tricky play by Thomas passing the ball off to Chavez led to Chavez chipping a ball over the top to his teammate. Thomas was one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot toward the near post just missed.

"If we get up 2-1 there, it's a whole different game," Salomon said. "We can put some guys back and play more defense. I think we could have held them off."

Jeffersonville benefited from a Corydon Central foul on Austin Whittington just inside the penalty box. Taking the PK, Jeffersonville's Alex Duckworth struck a laser in to the back of the net, giving Jeffersonville a 2-1 edge the Red Devils wouldn't relinquish.

"We played hard, and we did what we came out to do," Salomon said of switching formations and style of play in an attempt to knock off Jeffersonville. "We should have had the second goal. We felt like if we could get up a goal, we could hold on and win the game. We just couldn't get that second one in."

Panthers keeper Jay Brent made several saves around the 50th minute to keep his team in the game. It wasn't until the Panthers made a defensive mistake that Jeffersonville's Austin Ali linked up with Ben Mann to score a goal.

Kwitonda would add his second score with three minutes to play.

Drawing plenty of attention, Thomas, Corydon Central's all-time leading scorer, had to deal with a group of Red Devils surrounding him when trying to attack. Bound for Indiana University, the standout player felt his share of physical play.

"I think a closer called game would have benefited us," Salomon said. "Officiating hurts us when it's that physical. Someone should get a yellow card about the sixth time Cory was hacked, but that never happened."

Salomon believed the fouls on Thomas hurt Corydon Central's scoring opportunities.

"If you foul the best guy on the field with the ball every time he touches it, you take away our chances to score," Salomon said.

The loss ends the season for the Mid-Southern Conference champion Panthers. They graduate a ton of seniors: J.D. Higginbotham, Isidro Chavez, Brandon Smith, Garrett Dunaway, Noah LaMure, Cory Thomas, Grant Robinson, Austin Whittington, Clayton Miller, Nick Smythe and Dalton Arnold.

"All the seniors were outstanding this year and played well tonight," Salomon said. "Next year will be a young team and a whole different story. It was a good season. No one thought we'd be this good this season when we lost the good players we lost last year. I'm happy with the last game, but mistakes happen. For the most part, we did fine."

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