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Lady Panthers shut out North Harrison

Lady Panthers shut out North Harrison
Lady Panthers shut out North Harrison
Corydon Central’s Nathalie Laaz fires in this penalty kick for a goal in the second half of the Lady Panthers’ 4-0 win Thursday over North Harrison. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The girls’ soccer match Thursday between North Harrison and Corydon Central was one of seasoned veterans in the Lady Panthers’ squad against an up-and-coming group of Lady Cats’ youngsters. When it comes to that county rivalry, however, none of that matters with bragging rights on the line. For 80 minutes, the two teams went after each other like championship boxers. In the end, it was the Lady Panthers who got the win on 4-0 shutout.

“We hung with them the entire game, and we’re very, very young,” said North Harrison coach Jennifer Hess. “They’ve got a great group of girls, but they’re older. It’s something that’s promising for the future.”

“It was very physical; North Harrison and Corydon, it’s always going to be a physical game,” said Corydon Central coach Pat Clarke. “These girls both want to win out here in Harrison County. It’s a good rivalry and fun to watch and always better when you come out on top.”

North Harrison lost one of its starters only a minute into the match when Anna Gonzalez went down with a knee injury and had to be taken off the field.

“They took her for X-rays, so we’ll have to see what happens for that,” Hess said later. “She’s not new to knee injuries so, hopefully, it’s just a reoccurring issue that we can get through. She is one of the major players, so I’m hoping we can get her back. If not, that’s when we need to see everybody step up, and they did today. As soon as she was carted off, they took it personally and stepped up and didn’t have any gaps whatsoever.”

The Lady Panthers wanted to get on top early and got off three shots on goal in the first 12 minutes that found the back of the net but were called off due to offside calls. The time-of-possession arrow was sitting in Corydon Central’s favor with the Lady Panthers getting eight shots on goal in the first half.

With 8:03 left, Corydon Central finally got its first scoring goal when Amirah Curry lobbed a 40-yard shot over the hands of North Harrison goalkeeper Vicki Moorman. Less than two minutes later, Nathalie Laaz drilled a shot in from the left wing for a 2-0 lead. The Lady Cats got only two shots off at goal in the half with Corydon Central enjoying the lead at the break.

“We wanted to maintain possession and try to control the ball more to keep it out of their hands,” said Clarke. “We wanted to control the over the tops where they were getting their breaks and even in one on one with the goalie. I think we did a pretty good job with that. They were able to get away a couple of times, but we were able to close in.”

Hess said the mindset for her team coming in against a group of veterans was 100% effort.

“That’s what we were focused on, and we spent a lot of time the past week focusing on the little things, passing, the feet, communication, all of that,” said Hess. “It finally came together in this game. They were excited. It’s a Corydon game. They’re always excited.”

The Panthers kept the ball in their end of the field through most of the second half but, when North Harrison did get it, the Lady Cats were getting more shots off toward the net. With 16:28 left in the game, Stella Wolfe fired a shot in over Moorman for a 3-0 lead. The final goal of the match came less than three minutes later when Curry got her second goal on a penalty kick with 13:52 left for the 4-0 win.

“Honestly, that was the best game they have played this year,” Hess said. “It was physical and 100% the entire game. There’s nothing to be ashamed about whatsoever.”

All summer long, we’ve been shooting on the corner making sure we work on actual placement and not just sending it to send it,” said Clarke. “We want to capitalize on every opportunity the goalie gives us because it’s not often.”

Corydon Central finished with 18 shots on goal. Lady Panthers’ goalkeeper Maddison Franks had a relatively slow day with 9 defensive stops for the game. Clarke said shot placement was an area his team focused on.

“We’ve worked a lot on our goal shooting,” he said. “Our shots on goal and placement on the open side, trying to figure out where we can take advantage of open spots the goalie leaves us, not trying to force anything. They were patient and took advantage of what the goalie gave us. I’m really proud of them for that.”

“They’ve got great shooters and can strike the ball well,” Hess said. “Those were good goals. There’s nothing to be upset about on that. We got close and almost got them in. We’ve just got to keep shooting and keep trying.”

North Harrison finished with a total seven shots on goal for the 80 minutes. Goalkeeper Moorman was kept busy with 12 defensive stops for the match. Hess said she was glad to see how well her players handled the physicalness of the game.

“That’s one thing that’s new for them this year,” she said. “I think they’ve done well in the past at being physical, but we have stepped it up a notch. We run through the ball and do not stop. We make them hesitate, and they did. They did not stop, so I’m definitely proud of each of them today. Both teams took it like champs but, for this game, our team really held their ground.”

“The scoreboard does not reflect the effort,” said Hess. “I will take a loss like this, 4-0, all day long because they are exhausted and they worked their butts off for this. We’ll take that all day long because the score does not reflect their effort.”

The Lady Panthers were to fight for ownership of the Mid-Southern Conference crown yesterday (Tuesday) against visiting Silver Creek.

“We’ve always got to make sure we’ve got our spacing,” Clarke said of his preps for the Lady Dragons. “We can always do better with passing. I’m going to say that after every game. Silver Creek is a good program. They’re always on top of the conference, and we know that so we’re going to have to bring our best game against them. It’s going to be a battle.”