Panthers pick up tough loss against D.C. Everest in blustery conditions
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT — On a night when goals only came every so often, mother nature decided to give the players a challenge. The SPASH boys’ soccer team hosted the conference-leading Evergreens at the Portage County Youth Soccer Complex on Oct 6. The Panthers fell in a tough match, 2-1.
With the wind howling, each side had a few opportunities to find the back of the net early on. SPASH gathered the ball, and a nice touch-and-go pass had the Panthers in striking distance six minutes into the game. But the ball got deflected in the goalie’s box, and the score remained 0-0. D.C Everest found an opportunity a few minutes later and capitalized. A shot from the center of the field beat keeper Efrain Jaimes-Patino Jr to the upper corner, giving the Evergreens a 1-0 advantage. The wind seemed to play a part in the low-scoring affair. SPASH head coach Derek Bell said it had a little impact strategically, that was it.
“We had to adjust for wind, but it did not change tactical decisions,” Bell stated. “Just an awareness of what the wind could do to aid them (D.C Everest) in their attacking strategy. Our game plan didn’t change. It may have impacted a few balls that were played high, but we try to keep the ball on the carpet.”
The Panthers broke loose for another opportunity later in the half, with Diego Mata firing one just wide of the net. The score remained 1-0, staying that way until halftime.
A physical second half ensued, with the Evergreens extending their lead 15 minutes into the second half off a breakaway opportunity. SPASH did all they could to try and put shots on goal late in the game. With about three seconds left, the Evergreens committed a foul inside the goalie box. That resulted in a penalty kick for the Panthers. Senior Ben Omernik avoided the shutout with a laser that beat the goalkeeper on his second shot because of a rekick.
Bell explained the situation after the match.
“During the penalty kick, if any player enters the penalty box for the attacking side, and we score, there has to be a rekick,” he explained. “Ben’s as good of a spot-kick taker there is, so we were good with him re-taking the shot.”
SPASH falls to 4-4 in conference play with the loss. The Panthers travel to Wausau East on Oct 11 for the last conference game.