Cats accept both pains, gains of youth influxSeptember 13, 2013
By JOSEPH FANELLI
Herald Sports Writer
DUBOIS — There is a certain duality to playing freshmen. For all things good, it can be equal parts bad.
For instance, the bad: as in a backline anchored by two Jasper freshmen allowing a Northeast Dubois forward to sneak past for a breakaway goal.
And the good: as in the play of Jasper freshman Annie Stout, who buzzed around the field all night, tallying five assists and a goal of her own.
Obviously, in this case, the good trumped the bad.
With help from Stout and seven Wildcats with goals, Jasper cruised past Northeast Dubois 9-1 on Thursday in Dubois.
If Wildcat coach Anthony Price ever had any hesitation about playing freshmen, that has certainly been resolved. After giving playing time to nine first-year players at last weekend’s Hoosier Cup in Bloomington, Price gave the green light to seven freshmen Thursday, and with stellar results. Anna Charron netted three goals, all off assists from Stout, and besides the early mishap, defensive center backs Reagan Otto and Kayla Thimling were rock solid, corralling speedy Jeep forward Alicia Betz for most of the night. After losing its entire back row to graduation a year ago, the defensive pair have been asked to contribute early and responded with seasoned aplomb.
“I feel for them. That’s a lot of pressure,” Wildcat senior Lauren Renner said. “I think they were kind of expecting it, knowing we had our entire back line to replace and they just came in and stole show the show.”
But the most noticeable impact for the Wildcats (6-3-1) came from Stout, whose five-assist performance displayed a field presence well beyond her years. On two different goals, she dribbled deep into Jeep territory, sucking defenders down and away from the middle of the box, before sending quick balls to trailing Wildcats for easy goals. And the one goal she decided to score on her own, Stout cradled a long through pass just inside the 18-yard box, split two defenders with the dribble and then fired it past Jeep goalie Katie Kluesner.
“She just plays,” Price said. “She doesn’t overthink things. When she gets the ball at her feet, her main goal is either find someone in a better position or put it in the back of the net. I mean, she found five players tonight, that’s a big game assistwise at any level.”
For Northeast Dubois (2-3-1), the defensive woes did not happen until the second half. The Jeeps entered halftime down just 3-1. The Wildcats scored within the first 30 seconds on a ball that slipped through two Jeep defenders on a deceivingly wet field, but for the rest of the half, the Jeeps slowed down the Cat attack with strong play from Kaytlynn Dobbs and Kluesner. The one goal came after the Jeeps cleared the ball deep to forward Bri Frazier, who fielded it around midfield and then found Betz, who sped away from the last defender before releasing a laser to the left of goalie Shannon Sonderman. The Wildcats added one more score before halftime, but the constant Wildcat pressure proved too much as Jasper added six in the second half.
A frustrated coach Katie Layou had a simple response about her team’s performance.
“They can play much better,” she said. “We’re just going to forget about this one and go forward. You can’t focus on what already happened, can’t change it. They only get 80 minutes on the field and if they don’t get pumped up for it, I guess this is what happens.”
Jasper’s scoring prowess of late can be credited to what Renner and Price are calling a more creative offensive attack. The first goal may have best explained the approach, when Brittany Haskins crashed hard from the left wing spot into the middle of the field and then sprinted directly toward the goal as the forward went wide behind her anticipating the cross from Emily Jones. Haskins finished a few seconds later to open the game’s scoring.
“When we’re creative and we’re making great runs and switching places, not just staying in our own channels ... We look pretty good,” Price said. “People think selfishness is taking a lot of shots, but oftentimes it’s making the safe play and not (being) willing to try something different.”
“It’s really our combinations now,” Renner added. “We’re really working together and we’re getting really creative. ... It makes us a lot faster and it’s a lot harder to guard people when were making runs and long passes.”
As for Stout, her lone goal brought her to five on the season and the five additional assists brings her total to six. After a win and a great performance, what else could go right for Stout on Thursday?
Oh yeah, it was her birthday.
“Annie Stout was just a beast,” Price said.
Contact Joseph Fanelli at firstname.lastname@example.org
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