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Best soccer displayed by Lady Panthers

Best soccer displayed by Lady Panthers
Best soccer displayed by Lady Panthers
Gracen Lander leaps to head a ball away for Corydon Central while facing Charlestown. Photo by Brian Smith

For a good portion of the first half last Wednesday, Corydon Central fired balls the direction of Charlestown keeper Brenley Berger.
Shots were saved by Berger driving to her right and left. She took on direct attempts. A few she watched go off target and exhaled at a few soaring just over the crossbar, all keeping a pressing Corydon Central offense off the scoreboard.
In the Mid-Southern Conference match-up hosted by Corydon Central, it was Charlestown which was able to prevent the many Lady Panthers’ attacks from goal results.
Backed by a pair of second-half goals from Tayte Motsinger, Charlestown went on to defeat Corydon Central 2-1 in a match Lady Panthers’ coach Michael Rhoads deemed the best of the season.
‘That was the best soccer we’ve seen ” forward and back ” this year,’ Rhoads said. ‘We were getting back on defense when we needed to and, as a unit, we were moving forward. The types of passes were what we wanted. We were dropping the ball off, passing it out; we weren’t going just one way, straight to the goal. We played our best so far.’
Corydon Central’s first half featured early shot attempts by Trinity Travis followed by Gracie Paden cutting in from the right.
Off a Travis corner kick, Paden slipped past defenders for a shot that bounced off Berger’s gloves and saved. Lilly Wolfe and Lexi Lawyer came up from the midfield to have a go at shots only to be denied.
From her left-wing spot, Gracen Lander took a deep touch, circling a defender to have a shot saved. Late in the opening half, Lander was left one-on-one with Barger, sending a low, hard shot that was punched to the outside of the near post.
‘Their keeper made some great saves,’ Rhoads said. ‘I told our kids they were playing save-for-save today. We took our shots, which is something we’ve been working on. We took early shots and want to impose our game instead of letting our opponent do it to us.’
The second half saw Corydon Central misfire on a few chances. One included swift passing from Anabel Kopp to Paden, only to see the shot saved.
Charlestown broke the scoreless contest when Motsinger pushed through the Corydon Central defense and beat keeper Kaitlyn Fleace with 27 minutes to play.
Pressing back, Corydon Central had a big shot by Katelyn Paden knocked away, then Travis’ attempt at a rebound was caught by Berger.
With a tick under 19 minutes to go, Charlestown’s Ilayah Keltner was assessed a yellow card for physical play while going for the ball near Fleace. Unfolding near the goal line, the contact sent Fleace to the ground. She did not return to the match due to injury.
‘Kaitlyn missed all of last season (with an injury),’ Rhoads said. ‘It’s a tough play. The (Charlestown) girl is going for the ball and (Fleace) is going for the ball. She’s not going to back down no matter what. It was a 50-50 ball, but I didn’t see from where I was what happened. The way she plays is 100 miles per hour, 100 percent. She goes for it.’
Less than five minutes later, Corydon Central fell behind another goal when Motsinger took a free kick from the left just outside the penalty box. Her shot curled over keeper Bella Yonkers’ outstretched arms and in the goal.
With little time remaining, Corydon Central made runs at goal. The effort paid off when defender Abi Miller came from the back and notched the Lady Panthers’ lone goal with 6:10 remaining.
‘We’ve had wins and more goals, but this is the best overall soccer,’ Rhoads said. ‘We had Abi score from a defensive spot. We are really happy to see players not worried about being stuck in one position on the field. You play where you need to go. It was nice to see some creativity.’
Gracie Paden, Lawyer and Lander took late shot attempts to equalize the match but were unsuccessful.
The Lady Panthers were coming off a 6-0 win against Tell City, their second victory of the season.
‘We have some speed,’ Rhoads said. ‘Both Padens came out for the first time this year. Gracie is a senior and wanted to give it a shot. Her speed has been a difference. I had her in defense to start, and now we have moved her up. Against Scottsburg, she took off like a bullet. Katelyn has played great defense from the middle for us too. We are building.’
Holding things steady in the middle for the roster packed with nine seniors is Lawyer.
‘Lexi controls things for us in the middle,’ Rhoads said. ‘She can slow the game down if we need her to.’

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