Starr’s Mill and Whitewater renewed an old rivalry on Tuesday night, with the Panthers sweeping the doubleheader. The Lady Panthers surged early en route to a 6-0 win, while the boys scored late for a tight 1-0 victory.
Though the matchup no longer impacts region standings, it doesn’t dim the importance of a win.
“Anytime you can beat a county rival, it’s a good day,” said Lady Panthers coach John Bowen. “It’s been a long and tradition-rich rivalry.”
The game came at a good time for Starr’s Mill as they ramp up after spring break heading towards the state playoffs.
“The break came at a good time. We had played 10 game in the last few weeks. It was a good time to just get away and relax and recharge. Now, we should be ready to go,” said Bowen. “This was our second game in two days. Everybody played again to try and keep our legs fresh. It’s kind of a jolt back to reality.”
The Lady Panthers grabbed control of the game early and never let go. In the game’s seventh minute Riley Clark pounced on a defensive miscue to notch the opening score.
They ratcheted up the heat as the first half wore on, tallying three goals in eight minutes. With 12:12 left in the half, Starr’s Mill’s own number 12, Ashley Broderick, drilled a Carly Pressgrove feed for goal two. Lauren Yoss scored the third off a long pass from Dylan Patterson. Riley Clark used her fancy footwork to fake out the Wildcat defense and bury it in the net for her second goal and a 4-0 lead that held into halftime.
The first half explosion is the continuation of a dangerous team really finding their groove. They’ve got the lineup just the way they like and they’re ready to make a run at state.
“We’ve been going in spurts, but now we’ve got people in spots where they’re more comfortable,” said Bowen. “They can react instead of thinking about what I want them to do. That’s shown up on the scoreboard the last couple games.”
Dylan Patterson, Ashton Nowicki, Hannah Fertig, and Chayla Park were dominant on the back line. Paige Betsill, Ashlyn Walloch, and Spencer Dawson all saw time in goal and were sharp when called upon, combining for the team’s 11th shutout of the season.
Goal five came courtesy of Kayla Feigenbaum when she lightly redirected a Yoss shot. Lexy Weaver finished off the scoring when she beat the keeper for goal six.
The boys game was a tight battle throughout, a real treat for any soccer fan. From beginning to end it was a tightly-fought contest as two top squads left it all out on the pitch.
Whitewater’s Gersen VanGunst and Starr’s Mill’s Mitch Pattison were both stellar in goal, turning away shot after shot. Three times Pattison stopped what looked like sure goals, one each against Whitewater’s Tucker Sweat, Zach Birkhead, and Nick Gallardo.
Starr’s Mill finally broke the deadlock with just over seven minutes to play. Off a Tyler Annis assist, Brandon Oot found the back of the net for the game winner. Whitewater tried to mount a rally, but could not beat Pattison.
“I was pleased with the way we played,” said Starr’s Mill coach Mike Hanie. “The key was not allowing a goal and playing well defensively. We didn’t give up and kept trying to break down their defense and it paid of in the final minutes of the match.”
As the number eight ranked team in AAAAA, the Panthers are sharpening up their game when it matters most.
“I think we have solved some problems that happened in the McIntosh game and we are looking forward to the playoffs,” said Hanie.
For more photos from the games, click [btn type=”default or primary or success or info or warning or danger or link” link=”http://www.cdphotography23.com/Sports/High-School/Soccer/Soccer-2015/Starrs-Mill-vs-Whitewater/”]here[/btn].