Panthers power past Wildcats in bruising battleAugust 20, 2018
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
JASPER — Saturday’s girls soccer match between Jasper and Evansville Reitz was 90 minutes of pure physicality — something the Wildcats anticipated coming into the battle.
“I was telling the girls all week that every time we play against (Evansville Reitz), it’s going to be physical so we have to be ready for them,” said Jasper head coach Michael Donato following the Cats 5-2 loss to the Panthers at the Jasper High School Soccer Complex. “Honestly, I think this year was the most competitive that we’ve played with them over the past couple of years. I know we came out with a loss but I don’t think the girls should be all that upset.”
Jasper (1-2) started the match out with a few nice saves from goalie Keregyn Masterson and a shot on goal from Brooke Nottingham. The Cats scored the first goal of the match at the 29 minute mark as Gabby Budd scored off of an assist from Regan Mundy. However, less than 40 seconds later the Panthers answered with a goal of their own from Macy Broshears to tie the match at 1-1.
The tie wouldn’t last long as Nottingham scored on a perfect rebound goal to put the Cats up 2-1 after Kara Krueger’s initial shot went off the post. In their first three matches of the season, Donato has been impressed with the quick how strongly they’ve played in the first half.
“We’ve had really good ball movement in the first half,” Donato said. “We have a lot of people who are looking for shots and that’s a big positive. We don’t want to just rely on a couple of people, we look to shoot from all different positions.”
Evansville Reitz tied the match up at the 12:47 mark of the first half after Broshears’ second goal of the night while a shot from Naomi Splittorff just 30 seconds later gave Reitz a halftime lead, 3-2.
Immediately after halftime, Jasper had several opportunities to tie the match back up once again. At the 34 minute mark, Budd broke through the Reitz defenders for a fastbreak opportunity at a goal but the shot was no good. Then at the 30 minute mark, a perfect pass from Nottingham to Mundy set the Cats up for a great attempt at a goal but the shot just nearly missed.
After the Cats were unable to get the tying goal, the Panthers took advantage by scoring two more goals at the 23 minute mark and the 13 minute mark — both by Broshears, who finished with four goals total for Reitz.
“We had plenty of opportunities,” Donato said. “We had one off of the crossbar, one off of the post and we missed several shots that were right now the middle. We had opportunities, we just couldn’t convert on them the way we hoped.”
Junior Isabelle Blazey felt that toward the end of Saturday’s match the Cats started to lose some of the energy they had when they scored their two goals early in the first half.
“I feel like we never gave up but we were definitely slowing down a bit,” Blazey said. “We were trying to play possession but once we started to get tired, we began just kicking it more than we were actually possessing it.”
The Wildcats haven’t had an easy start to the season as two of the three teams they’ve played — Bloomington South and Evansville Reitz — have gotten votes in the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association girls polls.
The Cats are hopeful that this tough start to the season will pay dividends once Jasper gets into postseason play come October — at least, that’s the goal.
“You hope so right?” Donato said with a laugh. “I mean, our schedule is loaded so heavy at the beginning but it’s nice to find out what all of your weaknesses are at the beginning of the season.”
One of the biggest things that Blazey thinks the team still needs to work on is their offensive attack situations.
“I think we need to pass more and have everyone up instead of being so spaced out,” Blazey said. “We also need to be more accurate with our shots — other than that, we’ve been pretty solid.”
But perhaps the biggest positive about Jasper’s girls soccer team is their mix of youth and experience.
After graduating a plethora of seniors last season, the Wildcats start a variety of grade levels this season — five seniors and six juniors with Krueger, a sophomore, also seeing a large amount of playing time.
“The fact that they’re a younger team is obviously going to help us grow together,” Donato said. “We’ll start to see it this year and looking ahead, it’ll make us that much more stronger.”
Injuries Stack Up
In a physical battle such as the one on Saturday, injuries can occur at a more rapid pace than in a slower-paced match.
Starting defender junior Emily Patterson went down with what appeared to be a knee injury and didn’t return to the match after being helped off of the field. Goalie Keregyn Masterson also left the match with an apparent head injury and was replaced by sophomore Emma Shelton. Shelton had a few nice saves in limited game action after Masterson’s injury.
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