In the early stages of Monday night’s contest between Eastbrook and Mississinewa, the Indians began the game with energy and focus, scoring within the first four minutes to grab the early advantage.
But the Panthers did not trail for long, finding the equalizer less than three minutes and scoring twice more after that in an eventual 3-1 win.
After Holden Brown opened the scoring for Mississinewa with 36:04 remaining in the first half, the Indians struggled with moving the ball efficiently. Their passes were not as crisp as they had been in recent games, and they were unable to generate much more of an attack against the Eastbrook defense.
Eastbrook defender Ramzzy Bowser recorded the equalizer in the seventh minute, and from that moment, the Panthers dominated.
“Mississinewa is a better team than they’ve been in the past,” Eastbrook Head Coach Adam Hallis said. “They have a good record this year. They are ready to punish you. We made a mistake and gave that [early] goal up. They’ve got some dangerous players.
“But we possessed well. I think we looked good. I liked it, it was encouraging to see.”
After Bowser’s tally, the Panthers began to assert themselves offensively, maintaining possession and consistently pressuring the Indians’ back line.
“Eastbrook pressured the ball,” Mississinewa Head Coach Jared Reel said. “They didn’t let us breathe. When we didn’t have that time and space on the ball, we couldn’t make quick decisions. We just weren’t very accurate with the passing.”
The Panthers added two more goals in the final 15 minutes of the period. A Jake McKim shot rang off the post and past Mississinewa goalkeeper Cody Nantz with 15:56 remaining, and Bryan Popoca followed five minutes later off a great feed from Bowser, giving Eastbrook a 3-1 lead heading into halftime.
“We thought the game was over with after we scored that first goal,” Mississinewa Head Coach Jared Reel said. “Defensively, we were just watching them move the ball. Nobody was stepping to it to slow it down. We backed off, and that’s how they got their three goals. We can’t allow teams to have open shots and get behind like that.”
Armed with a two-goal advantage, the Panthers played in a more defensive formation for the rest of the contest. Mississinewa struggled to generate many more chances, which effectively ended their four-game win streak.
The Panthers outshot the Indians, 21-7, nine of which were on goal. Nantz made six saves for the Indians, while Spiegal rebounded after giving up the early goal, making two saves.