NETTLETON – The Amory Panthers caught fire in the second half last Tuesday night.
Tied 3-3 with Nettleton at the half, Amory scored six unanswered goals in the second half to come away with the 9-3 soccer division win.
“It was a much better second half than first. We got a little bit of momentum when we went up 3-1, but then we let off the pedal for the minute, and they scored and put another one in before the half,” Amory coach Nathan Clayton said. “It’s like what we have talked about with our guys. It can be really good when we do what we’re supposed to, and it can be really bad if we don’t. We saw a little bit of both and some in between tonight. I thought we defended a lot better in the second half, and most of their shots then were from around midfield.”
The Panthers scored first as Bryn Camp put in his first goal of the night off an assist from Riley Grace in the 13th minute.
The Tigers tied the game in the 28th minute when Cruz Mitchell followed up on a shot in front of the goal.
Amory pushed ahead 3-1 with goals in the 32nd and 34th minutes as Santiago Perez and Gunnar Williams had the goals with Camp getting an assist on the first one.
Jackson Cheek hit a long shot to cut it to 3-1, then Clayton Moore tied the game in the final minute of the first half.
“No. 20 (Cheek) made a great shot on their second goal,” Clayton said. “He’s standing there on the sideline on a 40-yard shot, maybe 45 yards if you look at the angle to the goal. He has a very strong leg, and it was a great play.”
The Panthers went back on top with Camp’s goal in the 47th minute and continued to add to their lead with five more goals afterward.
Dylan Thompson scored in the 59th minute, while Camp finished off his night with five goals, finding the back of the net three more times midway through the second half.
Preston Hall iced the win with a goal in the final five minutes with Williams getting the assist.
“I was proud of the way we responded in the second half. Bryn had a great night with five goals, and Preston came on and scored a goal at the end,” Clayton said. “Dylan Thompson got one, and we had other guys with some good shots like Tony (Hunt) and Terrell (Atkins). It was good to see some of those guys get some scoring opportunities. Kids like that are what makes it so enjoyable, seeing them work hard and get an opportunity and make the most of it.”
(G) Amory 4, Nettleton 1
Amory forward and leading scorer Morgan Mitchell went out with an injury in the first half, and eighth-grader Emma Gore took up the slack, scoring two goals on the night as the Lady Panthers grabbed the division win.
“With Morgan getting hurt, Emma Gore really stepped up. She hasn’t played up top that much this year, and she logged more minutes tonight there than the entire season combined and played extremely well,” Clayton said. “She created a lot of goal-scoring opportunities and scored two herself. We moved better in the second half. Our shape was better, and we were looking to connect more passes, changing lanes with it and like we have done a few times, we moved some people from the outside backs to the midfield and vice versa. Payton (Ford) played three, maybe four different positions.”
Mitchell gave the Lady Panthers the lead early in the 7th minute with her goal off a Macie Williams assist.
Gore put in her first goal of the night after a pass from Ellie Baker nearly as time expired in the first half and added her second one just three minutes into the second half. Williams followed her up with a goal just three minutes later to go up 4-0.
Nettleton’s Serena Williams cut it to 4-1 just two minutes later, but the Lady Panthers’ defense held from there.
“I was pleased with the way they responded. It would be easy after someone like Morgan goes down to hurt their feelings and get their heads down, but they didn’t,” Clayton said. “They rose to the occasion when that happened. It was a great night for Emma Gore, and Macie (Williams) also played well. Emma Coggin played a lot better in the second half, and Campbell (Erikson) had a pretty good game tonight too.”