Middle Park High School girls soccer team opens season 4-1
Sky-Hi Daily News sports correspondent
Grand County, CO Colorado
The Lady Panthers of Middle Park High School are off to a strong start in the spring soccer season, posting a record of 4-1 and winning the Mesa Ridge Tournament in Colorado Springs earlier this month.
Coach Molly Jordan said the Panthers were able to defend their tournament crown against Class 4A schools, defeating Harrison, Mitchell and Fountain Fort Carson.
In the tournament opener, five different players were able to score for Middle Park in a 9-0 victory. Kaylee Findley and Cindy Hobbs each netted a goal, Kylie Delphia and Hannah Levett each had two goals, while Maddie Shipman found the back of the net three times.
The Lady Panthers found themselves playing outside on a grass field for the first time all season.
After a rusty first-round start, overall play of the team improved in the second round as Middle Park was able to defeat Mitchell, 3-1. Coach Jordan noted better team communication, good spacing and better execution on a variety of passes as keys to the victory. Levett for the Lady Panthers was credited with all three goals. Coach Jordan also noted strong play in net by goalkeeper Haley Nordin.
In the championship game against Fountain Fort Carson, the Panthers were pitted against a very physical, skilled and aggressive team. In the 2-1 victory by Middle Park, Coach Jordan said her players were challenged to shield the ball from defenders, to concentrate on their spacing and to focus on their first touches.
“They (Middle Park Panthers) tightened up the defense with better communication from the backfield and overall better man-to-man coverage,” Coach Jordan said. “Additionally, our players spread the field on the defensive attack and created angle passes to the corner flags which exposed the other team and spread them thin.”
Coach Jordan also noted the strong play of Jackie Coucke, who commanded the backfield, and Levett, who controlled the midfield and finished up with good shots on goal. Levett scored the two goals for Middle Park.
The Panthers started Frontier League play on March 12 with a 2-0 victory over the Denver School of Science and Technology. The play was sluggish, according to Coach Jordan, but Levett and Shipman were able to find the net for goals.
The Lady Panthers were defeated for the first time of the season on March 17 as they lost 5-0 on the road at Holy Family. The host team took early command of the game with control, solid defense and smooth offensive attacks, Jordan noted.
Middle Park was able to bounce back in the second half with a solid defense and decent counterattacks. “Our overall quality of play was with more confidence and a sense of urgency and power,” Jordan said.
The Panthers won’t play again until April 4 when they hope to host their first game of the year against Academy.
That game will be a league contest for Middle Park and features a strong opponent. After that game, the Panthers are scheduled to travel to Sheridan on April 16, then host a game with Bennett on April 17.
During this time between games, Coach Jordan said her team would be working on first touches and drills to improve foot-dribbling, passing and shooting. “We hope that this work will allow our team to reap the rewards in future league play,” she said.
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