On a beautiful night for soccer, the 2 time defending state semi-finalist Pickerington North Panthers entered Patriots Stadium 3-0-0 and ranked #8 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com state poll, but left on the short end of the scoreline, with the Patty’s delivering a quality win by a score of 2-1.
In the earlier JVA match on the practice fields, the Patriots and Panthers played to a 1-1 draw. Liberty’s goal was scored by Meredith Shook and assisted by Abby Jones.
In the Varsity match, the Patriots opened the scoring in the first 10 minutes when senior Natalie Flahive chipped a ball over the defenders to Jordan Fike who beat her defender and finished the chance. Later in the half, Sophomore Abby Summers split two defenders after beating two others on the run with the ball and was brought down in the box for a PK. Sophomore Sarina Dirrig thanked Summers for the effort by burying the PK to put Liberty up 2-0 at the half.
The Panthers came out of the halftime break on a mission to reduce the deficit, had the Patriots on their heels for a 10 minute period and drew within a goal on a blast from 20 yards from Cameron Shedenhelm, who scored 17 goals for the Panthers as a Freshman in 2013.
The teams battled back and forth for the remaining half hour, with Liberty having a narrow advantage in possession and also seeing several more quality goal scoring chances. The Pattys had a large advantage in corner kicks but failed to finish those chances. A would be third goal was disallowed for an offside call, a shot by Flahive went off one post and traveled across the entire goal line before nicking the opposite post and going out of bounds,and a late shot by Jordan Fike narrowly missed. Mackenzie Coyne provided quality minutes at forward to support the effort. In the end, the Patriots outshot the Panthers by a 17-8 margin. The loss was Pickerington North’s first regular season loss since September 20, 2011.
The midfield unit of Captain Emma Ranalli, Sarina Dirrig, Lexi Fisher, Kylie Slusser, Hailey Pickelheimer, Katie Kill, Abby Summers and Olivia Sensky kept the work rate high in attack and repeatedly frustrated and broke up a well organized Panther’s central midfield attack.
The Patty’s seasoned back line of co-captains Katie Best and Emma Waters, along with the tandem of senior starter Hayley Hickman and sophomore Emma Koshan contained the Panthers attack which featured a 4-3-3 formation with attackers spread wide across the field. Goalkeeper MIranda Kuhns returned to action after a game off with a solid effort, registering five saves.
Through the first four games of the season, 11 Patty’s have scored goals and 10 have contributed assists, and have outscored the opposition 23-2.
The Patriots are now 4-0-0 overall and 1-0-0 in the league, and will return to action next Tuesday in a conference matchup at Upper Arlington, followed by a long anticipated rematch of last year’s District Championship with Bishop Watterson at home on Thursday.