Strong second half moves Lady Panthers into Sweet Sixteen


Craig Bardo

Sophomore Mia Hargrove maneuvers around opponents in order to shoot. Hargrove scored the first of the team’s three goals in the second half to help the Lady Panthers advance in the state playoffs.

Jessica Doyle, Staff Writer

After being held scoreless in the first half, the Lady Panthers overcame a challenging Dutchtown goalie, scoring three goals in the second half to win 3-0. The win moves Starr’s Mill into the Sweet Sixteen of the GHSA state playoffs. 

“We tried to play the ball quicker, communicate more, move in the space, and change our forward runs,” head coach John Bowen said. “Once we did that it opened up enough space and made it easier.” 

The Lady Panthers began their first playoff game of the season with a good start, gaining control of the ball. The girls used solid ball control to maneuver the ball down to the opponent’s goal, and kept the ball there for most of the opening half. 

Despite maintaining pressure and firing eight shots on goal, all attempts were blocked by Dutchtown’s goalie, sophomore Zoe Lavender. 

Momentum did shift in favor of the Bulldogs in the 24th minute, but their attempts were limited. Neither team could gain an advantage with the first half ending in a 0-0 tie.

“[Lavender] seemed to come out a lot and was pretty good in the goal” sophomore Mia Hargrove said. “We had to pass around her and to each other’s feet where she couldn’t get it, then you just dribble around and shoot.”

Starr’s Mill took possession to begin the second half and increased the pressure on Dutchtown. 

Hargrove broke the tie in the third minute. Freshman Isabella Large scored seven minutes later to put Starr’s Mill up 2-0.

Freshman Bella Ledford later scored to pad the Lady Panther lead. Dutchtown could not mount a comeback, sealing the Starr’s Mill win 3-0.

“I think we picked it up a lot,” Hargrove said. “We started talking more and working for each other, not individually.”

The Lady Panthers will  travel to Jackson County on April 18. Their next match begins at 6 p.m.

Jackson County, the top seed from Region 8-AAAAA, defeated Chapel Hill 9-0.