Effective ball handling leads Panthers to shutout victory


Annika Pepper

Sophomore Sofia Varmeziar chases a ball while Granger sophomore Malone Aldridge attempts to keep up. Varmeziar scored one goal, and she was a large contribution to the offense, making skilled passes that helped move the ball around the field.

Jenna Sanders, Sports Editor

With only two returning seniors,this year is a rebuilding year for the Lady Panther soccer team. The youth is battling the rebuild with swift energy, and the juniors and sophomores are stepping up to lead the team.

[They are] spending some time off the field getting together and doing some things. Everybody is kind of bonding in that regard.

— head coach John Bowen

Tuesday night, the Lady Panthers used effective passing and aggressive defense to keep the ball for 61 percent of the game en route to a 7-0 shutout win over LaGrange.

Senior Rachel Davison, junior Quin Nowicki, sophomores Sara Evans, Sofia Varmeziar, and Darby Olive, all scored one goal each. Junior Kara Dial ended the game with two goals.

“The girls are getting really comfortable with each other,” head coach John Bowen said. “[They are] spending some time off the field getting together and doing some things. Everybody is kind of bonding in that regard.”

The first half started off slow with tight passes allowing each of the Panthers some time on the ball. LaGrange was unable to battle the Mill’s defense, and the Panthers ran the game. The Panthers kept the ball on their side of the field, and if the ball drifted over the 50-yard mark, the Mill’s defense, headed by Davison, was able to quickly return the ball.

Nowicki scored the first goal of the game in the 12th minute from within the box. The ball shot past LaGrange keeper sophomore Rachel Harry into the left corner of the goal. The Grangers attempted to put more pressure on Starr’s Mill after the first goal, but the Panthers were able to handle the ball more efficiently.

Annika Pepper
Senior Rachel Davison protects the ball from opposing Granger junior Hana Sato. Davison led the offense throughout the game and scored one goal in the second half.

“I think we didn’t hold onto the ball too long,” junior Chloe Spradlin said. “We were moving the ball really well, and defensively we were back and we were tight.”

Sophomore Mary Jane Gagliano stopped a quick run down the field in the 18th minute. Evans, Nowicki, and Spradlin maintained consistent possession of the ball. Evans scored from just inside the box to close out the first half. The score going into halftime was 2-0.

“The first half was kind of rough,” Varmeziar said. “In the second half, we really got it together.”

In the second half, Starr’s Mill maintained possession of the ball while still pushing down the field with significant speed. The Mill was able to score five goals in the second half.

In the first five minutes of the second half, the Mill scored a point and had a shot on goal. Varmeziar scored the first goal of the half that was sent flying past Granger keeper Harry. Harry quickly turned around and was able to block the next shot sent her way by Evans.

The next goal for Starr’s Mill came off of a corner kick hitting the ball in was Dial in the 56th minute. Dial scored her second goal and the Panthers’ fifth goal from deep within the box five minutes later. Davison scored the sixth goal for the Mill just outside of the box in the 71st minute. The last goal of the game was scored in the 79th minute by Olive off of a corner kick.

“We got a clean sheet and a bunch of goals,” Spradlin said. “It wasn’t just from one person. We’re all kinda sharing the goals, so I’m feeling really good about tonight and the rest of the season.”

Starr’s Mill has had a successful defensive year with a total of four goals scored against the team while they have scored 30 goals so far. The Panthers (5-1) play next at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Alexander (4-3-1).