Josh Sours knew the task ahead of the Brookside girls soccer team in Friday’s season-opening game against Elyria Catholic.
The Cardinals hoped to put on a show for their home supporters, but Emily Vogel and the Panthers had different plans. The sophomore midfielder and forward scored four goals in the first half and led Elyria Catholic to a 5-1 victory.
From the opening kickoff, the Panthers dominated possession with elusive ball movement, tight passes and staunch defense in their defensive half. It took just seven minutes for that persistence to pay off as Vogel netted her first two goals in the fourth and seventh minutes.
A large part of Brookside’s struggles came from its inability to clear the ball deep enough out of its own zone. Junior goalkeeper Londyn Grieve was kept busy throughout the game and made her fair share of saves. More often than not, though, it seemed the ball bounced right to the feet of Panthers’ attackers, with Grieve unable to recover in time to stop the shot.
In the 15th minute, junior midfielder Emile Uhnak put the Panthers up 3-0 and one minute later, Vogel completed her hat trick. Her fourth goal came in the final minute of the first half.
Brookside wasn’t without chances in the first half. On multiple occasions, sophomore Heaven Vanzant pressed the ball into Elyria Catholic’s box but either couldn’t capitalize, or the Panthers defense snuffed out the opportunities.
In the 66th minute, Vanzant finally made good on her efforts as she tucked the ball past junior keeper, Cameron Resor, for the Cardinals only score of the day.
“I just realized that gotta pick up momentum somehow. We gotta get it moving,” Vanzant said. “I figured, putting one in the net would just build up the speed and get everyone in the game. It’s a great feeling (scoring the first goal of the season). It’s out of the way, I don’t have to worry about it and now from here, it’s just – we can move on.”
Sours said, despite the lopsided scoreline, he was pleased that his team held the Panthers scoreless n the second half.
“They showed me they had heart in the second half. We won the second half 1-0,” Sours said. “We talked about at halftime, they’re not playing an offsides trap but they’re playing up high. If we get some through balls, because we’ve got speed up top, either (Vanzant) or Tori (Cantu) should be able to get on it and finally we did.”
Leading up to this first game, Brookside’s practices have been thin. Due to vacations and players missing, Sours hadn’t had a full team to work with until Friday and said the lack of continuity showed.
Moving forward, he said he’s confident that those issues will begin resolving themselves, though he admitted the first few games will be tough. The Cardinals played Cloverleaf on Monday and are off until the 26th when they play at Lutheran West.
“I told them (that) right now, we don’t have the greatest soccer skill,” Sours said. “If you’ve got a team with heart, we can build off of that. We learn skill at practice.”
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