Lady Panthers’ offense prevails
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
To say that the start of the 2021 season has been good to the Corydon Central girls’ soccer team would be doing the Lady Panthers an injustice.
That’s been an improvement during the past decade, when the Lady Panthers endured multiple losing seasons, including a few winless campaigns since at least 2014. Last season was one of the program’s best during that span, when the team finished 4-5-1.
Fast forward to 2021, where the Lady Panthers are off to their best start in years, winning all five of their first matches, including a pair of victories over Mid-Southern Conference foes Scottsburg and Austin.
One of the primary components in the Lady Panthers’ blistering start has been a scorching offense, outscoring their opponents 27-3. The defense has been equally outstanding through the first five contests, three of which the Lady Panthers shut out the opposition.
Both of those components, the offense especially, were once again factors last Wednesday when they hosted rival Charlestown. Scoring early and often, the Lady Panthers extended their undefeated record to 6-0 with an emphatic 9-2 victory over the Lady Pirates of Charlestown. According to head coach Derek Korte, the Lady Panthers’ matchup with the Lady Pirates was the first time that the team has been at full strength all season, made difficult due to injuries and COVID-19-related issues.
Scoring early is always crucial for success, though that has been one of very few problems for the Lady Panthers so far this season. It wasn’t a concern in this matchup as sophomore Kylee Clarke needed only 14 seconds into the match to find the back of the net to give the Lady Panthers an early 1-0 lead.
“We’ve had a high-scoring offense this season, but we’ve always come out really measured, maybe a little hesitant in the first minute or two,” Korte said. “That was the biggest thing; we wanted to come out aggressive early.”
Along with a second goal in the match’s first 10 minutes, the Lady Panthers finished the first half 3-0, extending their early-season scoring differential to 30-3.
“Defensively, we got an excellent backline, and we’re working on rotations,” Korte said. “We actually have a backline player that we utilize in a special role so it calls for certain switching that actually happens within the formation. That’s something that we’re picking up, so our switching is pretty good from the backside because we’ve got plenty of speed back there.”
The second half saw little difference in the Lady Panthers’ offensive assault, scoring six more goals in the latter period. Despite the Lady Pirates breaking the shutout with a pair of goals late in the half, the Lady Panthers were in cruise control almost the entire way. Not comfortable with an 8-2 lead with less than 20 seconds remaining, junior Melanie Camacho placed one last goal into the net to complete the 9-2 victory.
Seven Lady Panthers scored in the contest, led the way by a pair from both senior Avery Branham and junior Amirah Curry. Of the 40 goals the Lady Panthers scored prior to yesterday’s matchup with Jeffersonville, Branham leads the way with 11.
While having an undefeated season to this point can be both a blessing and a curse, Korte and many players believe that, with a core of nine seniors leading the way, the Lady Panthers are just getting started.
“This is only my second year, but, from what I’ve seen from last year, we’ve improved so much,” junior goalkeeper Maddison Franks said. “We used to be the team that was getting down by seven and was having the hardest time getting caught up, but now we’ve gotten to the point where we barely need a defense sometimes.”
The Lady Panthers (7-0, 3-0 MSC) kept up their winning ways on Saturday, with a 4-0 victory over Trinity Lutheran, giving them their third shutout in a four-game span. After facing Jeffersonville yesterday (Tuesday), the Lady Panthers will continue their MSC slate tomorrow when they travel to Ramsey to confront county rival North Harrison at 6 p.m.