It was a showdown of the Panthers on Thursday, Sept. 16 as the Litchfield Purple Panthers boys soccer team hosted the North Mac Panthers in a non-conference match-up.
Litchfield hoped to secure their first victory of the season against a 3-6 North Mac squad. Though both squads saw nice stretches of play, neither team was able to find the back of the net and the game finished as a 0-0 draw.
Prior to the opening whistle, Litchfield honored their four senior players and their families. Seniors Spencer Hoehl, Cameron Crow, Sam Reid and Luke Davis all received a warm ovation from their home faithful before heading to the field.
Litchfield was aggressive early on offensively as sophomore Drake Gasperson had a pair of shots stopped within the first seven minutes. Junior forward Nate Fetter joined in on the attack, as he found space in front of the 18-yard mark and put a shot on net that forced a nice save from the North Mac goalkeeper.
The Purple Panthers got their best look at goal with 10 minutes remaining in the first half when Fetter used a series of dribble moves to get into the North Mac defense. After feigning a trio of defenders, Fetter put a hard shot on net that just missed over the top of the crossbar.
North Mac had no shortage of attacking play either, as the blue and white Panthers featured an effective counter attack. The trio of Riley Flowers, Aiden Hatalla and Cole Hatalla connected on a number of beautiful passing sequences that swiftly put the ball from their defensive end into the Litchfield defensive box.
Their best look came from Flowers, who received a perfect through-ball to get him in behind the defense and face the goalkeeper one-on-one. The Litchfield goalkeeper was too late to save the ball, as Flowers tapped it around the keeper, but was unable to finish the shot as the ball crashed into the side of the net.
As the game clock dwindled down, both teams would tighten up defensively and make some timely stops. The Litchfield defense was able to deflect a pair of corner kick redirects that stopped potential goals, with senior Crow making a number of nice saves in the net.
North Mac also absorbed a great deal of pressure, most notably when the Purple Panthers crossed a ball in front of the net that seemed to pinball off of five or six sets of feet before being cleared by North Mac.
Neither team could score before the final whistle sounded, meaning both teams would receive their first tie of the season. Litchfield moved to 0-8-1 on the year, and North Mac now sits at 3-6-1.
The Panthers would play Greenville in a make-up game from Tuesday, Sept. 14, on Saturday and nearly picked up their first win of the season. The Comets managed to escape with a 2-1 victory on their home field, with Ivan Powell picking up both Greenville goals. Senior Spencer Hoehl would score for the Purple Panthers.
Litchfield will be at home against Hillsboro on Tuesday, Sept. 21, for a non-conference match against the Hiltoppers.
Sept. 16 at Litchfield
Litchfield 0, North Mac 0
Sept. 18 at Greenville
Greenville 2, Litchfield 1
Scoring: Greenville - Ivan Powell 2; Litchfield - Spencer Hoehl 1.
Record: Litchfield (0-9-1, 0-2).