Panthers fall prey to Wildcats


Annika Pepper

Senior Ryan Shanahan fights for possession of the ball against a Whitewater player. For most of the first half, the Panthers were able to keep the ball on their side of the field. However, they failed to score on several attempts.

Ty Odom, Staff Writer

The Starr’s Mill boys’ varsity soccer team suffered a loss to Whitewater in a hard-hitting battle. The Panthers fell to the Wildcats 3-1 in penalty kicks for their third loss on the season and their first loss in region play.

Annika Pepper
Sophomore Keenan Godfrey attempts a shot on goal. The Panthers were only able to score once in the game. Their inability to score contributed to their 3-1 PK shootout loss.

Senior Jack Baker was the lone Panther scorer with a goal in the second half. While in the penalty kick shootout, senior Ryan Shanahan scored the only goal for Starr’s Mill.

“We had more than enough chances to score,” head coach Mike Hanie said. “We just missed too many opportunities.”

In the first half, the Panthers were able to keep possession of the ball for most of the first 40 minutes. However, the Whitewater defense prevented the Mill from getting into scoring position, only allowing three shots on goal. Of those three shots, two were saved consecutively by Wildcats goalkeeper Kai Blanchard in the 37th minute.

On defense, senior mid back Blake Helms led the charge while fellow senior Jordan Cole and junior Christian Castillo assisted in preventing Whitewater from advancing the ball into the box, not allowing them to attempt any shots.

“[Whitewater] had some big guys up top,” Cole said. “We have to muscle up and take care of that.”

The second half started off similar to the first, with Starr’s Mill keeping the ball on their side of the field. After several minutes of both teams trading possession, the Panthers advanced the ball further onto their side of the pitch, and Baker put the ball in the net to put the Mill up 1-0 in the 55th minute.

Following Baker’s score, the Panthers continued to play with aggression until a defensive lapse on a throw-in allowed the Wildcats to tie the game with less than ten minutes on the clock. Neither team was able to score in the last minutes, sending the match to overtime.

After overtime, the score remained 1-1, forcing the game into a PK shootout. Both teams were successful on their first kicks. The Wildcats proceeded to make their next two kicks, and the Panthers could not recover. The Wildcats took home the PK win 3-1.

“We need to keep practicing hard to close out games,” Baker said.

With the loss, the Panthers drop to third in the region with a record of 1-1 and 6-2-1 overall. Starr’s Mill hosts Jonesboro tonight in a varsity soccer double-header. It’s senior night for the Panthers. Festivities will take place between the two games with the girls’ game starting at 6 p.m.