Panthers upend Cougars, 4-1
Wade Bell, Contributing Writer
The Corydon Central Panthers boys’ soccer team used a solid second half in its county-rival match against visiting North Harrison last Wednesday to earn a 4-1 Mid-Southern Conference win. The Panthers used their heads, literally, with time of possession going to their favor in the victory.
“It was intense from the start,” said Corydon Central coach Justin Bottorff. “We came out strong, and we knew they were going to be physical. We knew we had to be physical back. We brought that to them, and we knew we had to take shots right away. We put some chances on that (goal) keeper and got them working and made them work for it and execute our game plan. We knew that they were going to play very defensive.”
“They’re obviously having a good season, and they’ve got some really good players,” said North Harrison co-coach Marcus Burgher IV. “We’ve got a lot of new guys coming in this year that are first time starting in the game. They’re getting better, but we’ve got to be able to finish in the final third. That’s just where we’ve had our problems.”
The Panthers came out aggressive, attacking the net with a host of quick shots and keeping the ball on their end of the field. After putting down seven shots that missed their mark, Corydon Central got on the board from a header by Jagger Holton to take a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars struggled just to get the ball past midfield then finally got two shots off but missed. Minutes later, Nico Schulz-Sembten found some daylight and drilled a shot from the left side that got into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. Corydon Central had chances to go ahead later in the half, but the first 40 minutes in a 1-1 tie.
“When you look at it, you take a header in the first half for a goal,” said Burgher. “He just goes up over us. It happens. You take a corner kick with a header, the same thing. You didn’t see things on the field defensively where they broke us down defensively.
“The fact of it is, most of their shots we were happy with that first half,” he said. “Most of their shots were outside the penalty box being contested. So, they weren’t getting clean hits that were the type of shots where they score a whole lot of goals. So, we were really happy with our back four guys in our line and our mid-fielders getting back and fielding out wide.”
“We made a few adjustments and saw their weaknesses and that was the thing we needed to do because they’re a very physical team,” said Bottorff. “We can’t let them have much time on the ball. We knew we had to keep the ball in this game and let the ball do the work.”
The Panthers dominated the second half both offensively and defensively. Just under midway through the half, Holton got his second goal of the day in the box giving the Panthers a 2-1 edge. Three and a half minutes later, Hayden Ettner added to that with a center-shot that bounced in off the top of goal into the net. Corydon Central’s final score came with 9:54 left in the game when Luis Martinez launched a 40-yard rainbow over North Harrison goalie Logan McIntire for a 4-1 lead. The Corydon Central defense held from that point on for the Panthers’ win.
“We out-shot them, and we’re not afraid to take chances from anywhere,” Bottorff said. “Obviously, that goal from way deep, any opportunity is a great opportunity. That’s the way we look at it. Any chance that we get we want to make it work and make worth something.”
“Defensively, you look at a 4-1 game and it doesn’t feel like a 4-1 game,” said Burgher. “They’ve got two headers that are nice plays they made, one of them on a corner kick and they get a scrub ball on the backside that the guy misses and doesn’t clear. It’s a 2-1 game most of the game, and that’s just part of the game.”
“I thought our kids played aggressive, and I thought our back line, especially, did a good job,” Burgher said. “When you look at their attacks, they didn’t get easy goals by beating the back line. They had one guy that hit a nice shot from long, and the fact is one of our mid-fielders should have stepped up and pressured a little bit. He gets a clean hit and hits it over the goalie.”
“There’s a lot of teams that this is the best year they’ve had,” said the North Harrison coach. “Record-wise, Corydon has a really good record this year. Scottsburg is the same way in the conference. Silver Creek doesn’t have a strong record, but they’re competitive against everybody. For us, this is a year that we think we’ve got a lot of kids that are going to be really good but they’ve got to learn how to finish in that last third of the field.”
While Corydon Central did show a lot of aggressiveness on shots and defense, Bottorff said his team still needs to attack more for the 50-50 balls.
“50-50s in between our defense and our mid-field, just the communication there,” he said. “Our keeper (Jacob Charles) just came back. He’s really good with his feet, so being able to use our backs up, to play to our keeper when we need to, or play to the wingers, or when we need to clear, we had to clear a few times today because they were coming in strong.”
“Practice has been better every day,” he said. “We’ve got to keep that mentality. We know who we’re up against, and we’ve got some marks on our calendar of who we need to keep up with and we’ve got a good eye on them. Sectional is definitely on our minds already from the very start. Conference is on our mind, and it’s going to stay that way.”
North Harrison 1 0 – 1
Corydon Central 1 3 – 4
North Harrison – Nico Schulz-Sembten
Corydon Central – Jagger Holton 2, Hayden Ettner, Luiz Martinez