This was the Panthers’ seventh game in six days as they traveled to Mesquite to play Virgin Valley in a non-conference game. Conditions were brutally hot and the field is probably the largest the Panthers will play on this season. Despite these factors, the Panthers cruised to a comfortable victory. Starting lineup: Huckfeldt, Saricayir, Nogues, Lloyd, Olenak, Hoxhalli, Ruffer, Stevenson, Manthey, Vogel, Montoya.
The first half was a very one-sided affair with the Panthers having Virgin Valley pinned in their own half except for two counter attacks. The Panthers opened the scoring early when good combination play between Mikey Vogel and Bryan Montoya saw Montoya slip Presten Manthey behind the defense for him to slot comfortably past the goalkeeper. The Virgin Valley goalkeeper was very busy and put in an excellent performance with many fine saves in both halves. However, the pressure would eventually tell when Montoya seized on a lose ball in the Virgin Valley defensive area to dribble the last defender and score past the exposed keeper. Virgin Valley mounted their first meaningful attack with a long ball down the Panthers’ right side. The attacker showed pace to get beyond Ryan Nogues only for his shot to strike the post. Normal service was resumed after that and Manthey scored again from inside the penalty area after being put through by Henry Robledo-Matadamas. With only 20 minutes gone it looked like the score was going to get out of hand, so the Panthers were instructed to score by header or volley of crosses or with shots from outside of 20 yards only. This proved a problem, as the Panthers failed to use the width effectively to deliver crosses and shot from impossible ranges. The only close effort was a fine free kick from Robledo-Matadamas that went just over the crossbar. Half time 3-0.
A substitute center back pairing was used in the second half. This pairing had not played together before in these positions, plus an injury to Tyler Olenak meant that the Panthers had to employ a striker as left full back. Starting line up: Dagum, Tonks, Hoxhalli, Saricayir, Vogel, Stephens, Ruffer, Venezia, Manthey, Robledo-Matadamas, Montoya.
The second half followed the pattern of the first half, however this time Virgin Valley took advantage of the Panthers’ defensive inexperience to score two goals. Manthey began the scoring for the Panthers when he finished comfortably from inside the penalty area after a fine through ball from Tanner Stevenson. Virgin Valley then struck twice in a five minute spell with a ball over the top on both occasions. The Virgin Valley striker was very pacey and the Panthers’ defense was too flat and too high, giving the opportunity for the ball over the top. This was compounded by the Panthers’ midfield failing to put the Virgin Valley midfield under pressure, permitting the passes to be delivered. For the first goal, Nathan Dagum was very unfortunate. With a one-v-one he made a fine save but neither he nor the recovering defenders could clear the loose ball, which the striker turned into the goal. Shortly following there was an identical situation and Dagum made another fine save to deny the goal. For the third occurrence, the recovering Panthers’ defender was beaten to the ball and the striker executed a fine finish that game Dagum little chance. Dagum made one more fine save from a Virgin Valley effort and his saves clearly prevented a much closer result. For the last 15 minutes, the Panthers dominated and scored four more goals. Zach Ruffer began this scoring. A Tim Stephens struck the crossbar with a strong header off a fine Manthey corner. Ruffer reacted quickly to the rebound and buried it into the net with a powerful header. Montoya had a tap in finish after Robledo-Matadamas had come close to scoring himself. Robledo-Matadamas was having no luck with a succession of shots being blocked by defenders, saved by the goalkeeper, or going narrowly wide. He finally got his goal after some very unselfish work by Montoya. Montoya received the ball on the right wing and dribbled past two defenders to the end line, where he cut in and pulled the ball back for Robledo-Matadamas for an easy tap in goal. Manthey finished off the scoring with a long range shot into the roof of the net after a layoff from Ruffer. Final soccer 8-2.