Throughout the 2019 season, the Eastbrook Panthers’ speed on their front line and in the midfield, together with their sturdy play on the defensive end, has been a major part of their success.
And against the 15-1 Manchester Squires on Thursday night in the Sectional 39 semifinal, both of those factors helped the Panthers punch their ticket to the sectional championship.
Sarah Foulk and Chloe McDaniel each scored a pair of goals, the defense was stout, and the Panthers shut out the Squires by a score of 4-0.
“I think our girls went out and dominated,” Eastbrook Head Coach Jamie Hallis said. “It was awesome to see when we knew the team coming in had only lost one game. We watched them on Tuesday, and knew they had some speed up front. I feel like the girls came in and controlled the game from the beginning.”
Eastbrook’s offense quickly found their rhythm, and with the Squires unable to match their speed, the Panthers were able to create several quality scoring chances early on, particularly on runs through the Manchester defense.
The Panthers’ strong start quickly paid off, as Foulk opened the scoring for Eastbrook just 10 minutes into the match. After dribbling down the left sideline off a throw in, she put the ball on net. Manchester goalkeeper Kindra Stetzel made the original save, but Foulk pounced on her own rebound, converting the second opportunity to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Eastbrook kept the pressure on, keeping the ball on the Squires’ side of the pitch and not allowing them to advance up the field.
Seven minutes after Foulk’s first tally, McDaniel found twine off a shot from the edge of the penalty box, increasing Eastbrook’s lead to 2-0.
“I think Chloe had a great game tonight,” Hallis said. “Chloe has come a long way. She has always been quick, but her skill on the ball really showed tonight. She worked really hard to be in front of the goal [as well as] finish.”
From that moment on, the Panthers were fully in control. They dominated the possession for most of the rest of the match, while their defense completely stifled Manchester’s attack.
“[Manchester] had great outside midfielders,” Hallis said. “They were very good with the ball and are very good at sending those passes in. Our goal was to keep them in check, to keep them from getting the ball in the first place, and then if they did get the ball, try to stay on them. Our center midfielders and our outside midfielders did a great job of not letting them send those balls in. That’s what helped us take away their offense.”
With time winding down in the match, the Panthers gave themselves a little insurance. McDaniel scored her second of the contest off a great assist from Foulk with 14:54 remaining, and Foulk recorded her second tally with 16.4 seconds remaining.
The Panthers put up 13 shots, 12 of which were on goal, while the Eastbrook defense allowed just three shots, all of which came in the second half. Gabby Scott, though not tested much, stood tall, stopping all three Manchester shots to secure the shutout.