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Weber’s second-half hat trick leads Lady Panthers’ comeback against NH

Weber’s second-half hat trick leads Lady Panthers’ comeback against NH
Weber’s second-half hat trick leads Lady Panthers’ comeback against NH
Corydon Central senior back-up goalkeeper Bella Gerlach leaps for a critical block of a shot on goal from rival North Harrison late in the second half of the Lady Panthers’ 3-2 come-back victory against the host Lady Cougars on Thursday. Photo by Brandon Miniard
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]

The Corydon Central girls’ soccer team found itself in an unfamiliar position last Tuesday when they fell to Jeffersonville 6-2, giving the Lady Panthers their first loss of the season.

The Lady Panthers were in another alien position when they traveled to Ramsey to confront county- and Mid-Southern Conference-rival North Harrison in the pitch edition of the Big Cat Classic on Thursday night. Normally a dynamic offense, the Lady Panthers were instead shut out through the first half while the Lady Cats went into halftime with a 2-0 advantage, courtesy of early goals from senior Alison Saunders and sophomore Addisyn O’Leary.

Just 40 minutes away from being upset by their county rivals did not sit well with Lady Panthers’ head coach Derek Korte, and he voiced his disappointment to his squad during halftime. Once the second half began, Lady Panthers junior Ava Weber personally brought the Lady Panthers’ offense back from the dead by notching a hat trick en route to a 3-2 comeback victory.

“It was an issue with us maintaining and passing the ball, so we weren’t able to spread the field out,” Korte said. “(North Harrison) collapsed in a little bit, got some balls over the top and beat us at our own game on the direct kick in the first half. So really, our offense was not supporting each other and was letting each other down.”

The host Lady Cats’ offense ambushed the Lady Panthers early as the former needed just more than five minutes into the match before one shot rolled gently into the back of the net.

More than 10 minutes passed before the Lady Cats struck again, converging on the Lady Panthers’ goal once more on a fast break. As the Lady Panthers’ defense tried to fill the gaps, the Lady Cats managed to pull Lady Panthers’ junior goalkeeper Maddison Franks out of the goal before firing a perfect shot into the goal.

Despite scoring 38 goals coming into the matchup, the Lady Panthers had no way of finding the goal against the Lady Cats, thanks in part due to the efforts of sophomore goalkeeper Vicki Moorman blocking a number of shots on goal, keeping the shutout intact until halftime.

“Everybody was hungry; we had all the adrenaline in the beginning of the game because it’s Corydon, a rivalry game,” Saunders said. “It brought a lot of energy and we came out strong those first few minutes. We were possessing the ball in the middle and playing outside, got some good looks on the goal.”

“I was not happy, and I had some choice words for them at halftime,” Korte said. “The biggest point I was trying to make is that they were better than that in the first half and they were nowhere playing up the capability of how they played this season. They needed to hear that.”

Korte’s directness during the break resonated with the Lady Panthers, particularly with Weber. Once the second half began, the junior striker took it upon herself to bring the Lady Panthers back into the match.

It didn’t take long to do so, needing just over a minute and a half to put the Lady Panthers on the board, courtesy of a strong pass from sophomore Kylee Clarke. Not even five minutes later, Weber once again found the back of the net on a dime from freshman Addison Applegate, tying the contest in the second half’s first seven minutes.

Almost two minutes after tying the game, Weber broke through the Lady Cats’ defense once again before firing a bullet into the back of the net. The result was an erupting Lady Panthers’ bench as they roared back to take a 3-2 lead.

“He sees this great light of potential that we can have, though sometimes we don’t see that,” Franks said of Korte. “He just tries to push us to be the best that we can be, and sometimes you need a reminder of how much you really need to be pushed, and we needed something to get us fired up and put everything we had out on the field.”

Despite taking the advantage on the scoreboard, the two squads remained evenly matched on the field as the Lady Cats did everything in their power to try and tie the contest. That chance appeared to be in their grasp when Franks was taken out and replaced with senior Bella Gerlach. Those chances were dashed when Gerlach made multiple saves in the final minutes to secure the Lady Panthers’ eighth win on the season.

“It took some tough medicine, but I’m actually really proud of how they responded based upon how direct I had to be with them at halftime,” Korte said. “They took it in stride.”

The Lady Cats (1-7, 1-1 MSC) followed their second-half collapse by watching their own comeback attempt against Northeast Dubois fall by the wayside, falling to the Lady Jeeps 3-2 on Saturday. Their next opponent was Silver Creek, whom they hosted yesterday (Tuesday).

The Lady Panthers (8-1, 4-0 MSC) continue their dominance in the MSC despite the scare against the Lady Cats. They faced Providence on Monday as part of senior night festivities and are set to travel to Madison today.

Once the Lady Pioneers and Lady Cubs are dealt with, the Lady Panthers will conclude their MSC slate with a contest against Salem tomorrow. In the final week of the regular season, the Lady Panthers will host Silver Creek (7-2-1, 2-0 MSC) in a showdown to decide the MSC championship.