TAMPA – A season after falling in a penalty shootout to Plant, Newsome gained a measure of revenge as it turned the tables on the Panthers, earning a 5-4 victory in a shootout that went to the seventh shooter after the two sides had played to a 2-2 tie in regulation in the final of the Lady Wildcat Invitational at Wharton High on Saturday afternoon.
After the Panthers had missed their shot in the seventh round, Kassandra Cobb gave the Wolves victory, driving a well-struck shot into the right side of the goal out of the reach of Plant goalkeeper Lauryn Bodden.
“I had a lot going through my head as I was walking up,” Cobb said. “I was so nervous, the game-winning goal, but I just did what I normally do, and it went in.”
Plant had appeared to have the upper hand early in the shootout as Bodden saved both of the Wolves first two kicks. But the Panthers were unable to capitalize on either shot after the Wolves misses, and Newsome’s Shea Rhoney made it 1-1 after the third round. The two sides then converted three straight shots apiece before Plant’s miss in the seventh round.
Newsome had taken the lead from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to go after Maria Cate was judged to have been brought down in the Panthers penalty area. Caroline Evers stepped up and coolly shot home low into the right corner. The Panthers tied the game with five minutes to go, though, as Caroline Bado’s crisp first-time finish into the right corner of the Wolves net capped a well-worked passing sequence.
Newsome coach Kelly Townsend was disappointed that her side wasn’t able to hold its lead, as it had also failed to do before defeating Clearwater Central Catholic in a shootout earlier in the week, but knew the Wolves wouldn’t let their heads drop.
“When we get up 2-1, 1-0, we’ve got to solidify that win for us than going into PK’s or settling for a tie,” Townsend said. “This year, we’re not going to win 8-0, 12-0, we’re going to have to go up in offense and hold onto that win, and not let team’s come back.”
Newsome opened far better than it had in its prior two games, disrupting Plant’s rhythm as it gave the Panthers little time to work the ball around. The Wolves took the lead in the 13th minute after Bodden was whistled for handling the ball outside her penalty area. Cate drove the ensuing free kick past the defensive wall into the bottom left corner of the net.
The Panthers answered seven minutes later, a brilliant cross from the left from Ellen Moore being flicked in at the near post by Molly Ganther. Panthers coach Steve McGill was happier with the way his side played in the second half, but was disappointed his side wasn’t able to take advantage after Bodden’s early efforts in the shootout.
“Lauryn gave us three chances to win in the shootout,” McGill said. “We didn’t put them in the back of the net, and that’s what happens. All-in-all, great game, (early) season, nothing to be ashamed of from our side, Newsome played well.”
The Wolves graduated nine starters from last season’s team, and in the shootout five of their seven shooters were underclassmen. None of them seemed daunted by the pressure though, as they earned a victory their more experienced counterparts a season ago couldn’t claim.
“Like Coach Townsend says, we don’t rebuild, we reload,” Cobb said. “We have a lot of shoes to fill from the girls that moved on, but we believe we can fill those shoes.”