Two penalty kicks and a sublime goal, all in the final 20 minutes were enough for the Wichita Independent Lady Panthers to secure a win on their final road game of the regular season.
The Lady Panthers crashed the senior night festivities at Circle High School by beating the Lady Thunderbirds 3-1 in a defensively heavy game for most of the way through.
“It was really great for the girls, we played in the North Cup Tournament this last weekend and we had a couple of losses that we weren’t expecting. We are a little bit sad since it is towards the end of the season so it was a good win,” said Independent Head Coach Courtney Prendes.
The game stayed close throughout with both teams playing well defensively as the first half went without a goal from either side.
Goalkeeper Jessica Baldridge for the Lady Panthers showed just how much control she had over the net by clearing away the ball on two deadly Circle scoring opportunities in the first half.
“[Jessica Baldridge] she’s an awesome goalie and she’s really saved us this year. Our goalie from last year was a senior and so she’s really stepped up and taken over that spot,” Prendes said. “Unfortunately, she’s a senior this year too so we’re about to lose her as well but she did a great job.”
Leah Metzger of the Lady Thunderbirds also dominated for most of the game before the final 20 minutes of the game arrived.
Jessica Fisher for Independent had a good attempt to break the 0-0 deadlock but her shot went wide left of the post with 25:17 left to play in the game.
The game appeared to be heading into a 0-0 draw but that all changed once the Lady Panthers scored a goal that went high into the far left corner of the net and was just out of reach for Metzger to put Independent up 1-0.
With 13:25 left, Bethany Barnaby of Independent was tackled from behind in the box, awarding her team a penalty. Fisher made the most her opportunity by scoring the easy goal to double her team’s lead.
The Lady Thunderbirds managed to narrow the gap after a penalty was given. Vivian Dalcoletto scored to make it 2-1.
Circle tried the best they could to tie the game with time running out but a second goal from Fisher off a long shot placed the Lady Panthers up by two and the game out of reach for the Lady Thunderbirds.
The Lady Panthers will now face Rose Hill at home on Tuesday, May 8 in their final regular season game before sub-state. According to Prendes, Independent appears to be coming together at the right time in their preparation for post-season but is also sad to see the end of the season coming just around the corner.
“At the end of the season, it’s a little hard to get them all (the team) to focus with finals and everything but playing-wise, all the girls have stepped up and have been grasping all of the concepts that we have been teaching them and it’s coming together nicely. They’ve been doing a great job this season and it’s sad that it’s already coming to an end,” Prendes said.
Independent improved their record to 9-6 for the season while Circle’s record sits at 0-12 and will take on Augusta on the road on Friday, May 11.