Girls Soccer Falls To Panthers In Sectional

Posted on October 6, 2017 in Fall Sports, Girl's Soccer

On paper, it was considered an even match. Oak Hill was ranked 16th in Class 2A and Eastbrook 18th entering Thursday’s Sectional 39 girls’ soccer semifinal on the Panthers pitch.
But after playing to a standstill for the first 23 minutes, the Panthers broke through with a goal and gradually pulled away for a 5-1 victory over the Golden Eagles and a berth in the championship match.
Eastbrook (14-2-2) meets first-time IHSAA postseason participant Wabash (10-5-1) in the finals at 7 p.m. Saturday with the Panthers aiming for their fourth title in five years. Wabash advanced with a 1-0 victory over Taylor on freshman Olivia Lindsay’s first goal of the season.
“The girls came out and played intense and played with heart and they followed through to the very end,” Eastbrook coach Rebecca Shrontz said. “I”m very proud of them.”
Freshman Sarah Foulk and sophomore Natalie Danals each scored two goals, giving them 22 and 20 for the season. Natalie Lakanen, another sophomore, rounded out the scoring with her 12th goal.
Oak Hill, which closed out an 11-6-1 season, fell behind 2-0 at halftime but scored less than two minutes into the second half on Olivia Smith’s penalty kick from the 30, a high-arching boot that lofted over leaping Eastbrook goal keeper Gabby Scott. If momentum had switched to the Eagles’ side, it soon departed after Foulk dribbled downfield and with a defender draped over her delivered her second goal to restore the Panthers’ two-goal advantage.
“The girls didn’t hang their heads after that (Oak Hill) goal,” Shrontz said. “They weren’t disappointed and they just got back on it and continued to play, and I think they played harder.”
Both teams missed on early scoring chances, with the Panthers nearly connecting on a penalty kick from the 40 and the Eagles’ Carlee Biddle unleashing a direct shot from short range that Scott smothered. Then, in less than one minute, the Panthers had taken a 2-0 lead.
Danals delivered the first goal at 16:53 of the first half when she dribbled into the goal area and the defender checking her fell down, resulting in a nearly uncontested shot. Oak Hill goal keeper Andrea Wilk reacted late and Danals drilled a shot from near point-blank range.
Eastbrook controlled the kickoff following the goal and Foulk controlled a Danals corner kick, guiding the ball into the goal box with her chest and making it 2-0 with 16 minutes before halftime.
“I actually felt we started out pretty strong,” Oak Hill coach Katie Durrwachter said. “We just had two mental mistakes and (Eastbrook) capitalized. You can’t give Eastbrook those type of shots wide open in the back cause they are going to take advantage of it every time.
“That’s what happened, we had two mental mistakes. But the wonderful thing for me as a coach was go over to the flag (at halftime) and hear them talking about what they needed to change and we got 40 more minutes and we can do this and they already covered half of what i was going to say.”
Smith wasted little time after a penalty flag was thrown to gather the ball and deliver the kick before the Eastbrook defense could set up. It was her seventh goal of the season.
Danals made it 4-1 at 17:46 of the second half and was set up nicely by a Foulk cross, and then Danals made a long cross from near midfield to free up Lakanen for the final goal with 8:34 to play. Besides her goals, Danals had two assists while Foulk and Grace Brown had one assist apiece.
Eastbrook’s passing and dribbling was dazzling throughout the match and led to 18 shots on goal. Oak Hill finished with seven shots on goal.
“It’s really fun to watch,” Shrontz said. “They definitely have an eye for spreading the field and making runs and playing on to it.”
The Panthers had also defeated the Eagles 2-1 in the Aug. 15 season opener for both teams, and Durrwachter said the Panthers have evolved offensively since the first match.
“They definitely used a few more players on their offense this time around,” Durrwachter said. “Eastbrook consistently works hard, they are mentally tough and they are going to look to shoot at any opportunity that they can. That is something that is consistent about them that you know what you’re going to get.
“We still made mental mistakes (in the second half) leaving girls open and I don’t know if mentally they were having a hard time. But you can’t leave girls open in the back – it doesn’t work in soccer.”
In the first semifinal, Lindsay scored the lone goal with 17:49 left in the opening half on a beautiful cross from Bailey Yoakum, and the Apaches defense made it stand up. Yoakum is one of the state’s top goal scorers with 41, and the Taylor goalie had committed to her on a runout, leaving the goal box exposed when the ball was passed to a wide-open Lindsay.

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