The JV continued their winning ways with an excellent victory against a very strong Durango JV side. Starting line up: Diaz, Grunwald, Franco, Stodick, Claire, Kanater, Wener, Schutze, Parker, Hayes, McGee (4-4-2).
The Panthers started strong and dominated the early possession. The Durango defense liked to play high and flat but did not have the recovery speed required to handle the Panther strikers. This fact alone was to be their undoing in this game, where the 4-1 scoreline flattered the visitors. Time after time the Panthers released the speedy Lamar Hayes in behind the Durango defense. He spurned one opportunity before opening the scoring. After regaining possession in the midfield, Connor Schutze split the defenders with an excellent through ball to Hayes who was lurking on the shoulder of the last defender. Hayes was away and was not going to be caught. He beat the keeper to his right and slotted the ball into the net. Durango was having no impact on the Panthers defense where Noah Grunwald, Sebastian Franco, Alex Stodick. and Gavin Claire were proving very effective in snuffing out Durango attacks and launching the Panthers forward. Particularly, Alex Stodick has grown in stature during these opening four games and he is totally dominant both in the air and on the ground. Ricky Gray was causing the Durango defense a world of trouble with his movement, physicality, and pace, and it appeared to be a significant loss to the Panthers when he retired injured with a dead leg after 10 minutes. The attack was rejigged with Joshua Parker introduced as a striker for Gray. The pattern continued with the Panthers dominating play and continually opening up the Durango defense, only to spurn opportunities as Hayes wasted a one-on-one with the keeper and then struck the crossbar with a fierce effort from the edge of the box. Durango earned a rare corner and it was from this that they equalized after 20 minutes of play. A Panthers defensive header ricocheted of a team mate and fell kindly for a Durango player just 8 yards out right in front of goal and he left goalkeeper Yahir Diaz with no chance. This was the first goal conceded by the Panthers JV this season and it seemed to rattle them. For the next five minutes is was panic stations as the Panthers made mistake after mistake and gifted Durango the initiative. However, Durango was unable to capitalize on this. The Panthers brought on Elijah Posada as a holding midfielder and his presence settled things down. The Panthers dominated the last five minutes and in this period they re-established the lead. They should have had a penalty after Hayes was put through yet again but was tripped from behind when in the act of shooting. The leading goal came when Parker showed short on the right wing and received a pass from Trever Wattles. He turned and played a clever ball across the Durango back line to find Hayes, who once again ran in on goal unopposed to score. Half time 2-1.
The Panthers changed the formation from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 in an attempt to exert more control over the midfield. As a result their domination of the game was almost total during the second half. Starting line up: Probst, Trevor Wattles, Franco, Stodick, Claire, Posada, Connor Wattles, Wener, Buonto, Hayes, Kanater.
Durango attempted to get back into the game by sending more men forward. However, this just left the defense exposed even more and the Panthers took advantage. Hudson Ryder was introduced on the right wing 10 minutes into the second half and he tortured the Durango left full back with a fine display of dribbling, and passing and movement. Posada was dominating the midfield and the skill of Connor Wattles and Cole Wener in the midfield was repeatedly opening up the Durango defense. Again, more changes were missed than were scored through poor finishing, good goalkeeping, and last ditch tackles. Hayes was put through twice, first to shoot straight at the goalkeeper and second to take too long to pull the trigger allowing a defensive block. At the third attempt he has put in behind by Wener with an excellent through ball that needed no controlling touch and he crashed the ball to the left of the keeper from 16 yards. The game now appeared to be safe. Saifeldin Mohamed was introduced for Wener as an additional holding midfielder to help secure the result. Mohamed put in his best performance of the season so far by winning a lot of ball and using it effectively. Conner Wattles was pushed into the attacking midfield role and it was from here that he scored the fourth goal. A long punt from goalkeeper Kyle Probst was allowed to bounce in the center circle and the ball seemed to deceive everyone and get in behind the flat defense. A number of Panthers sprinted in behind but it was Wattles who got there first to finish beyond the helpless keeper from the edge of the area. Final score 4-1.
This was the first time that the JV team had conceded a goal in a game and it came as a bit of a shock. However, once they stabilized themselves they showed the ability and determination to go on and secure the victory. Other players deserving a mention for this game are: Gavin Claire at left full back, whose speed and aggression in the tackle means that he is rarely beaten. He has also become quite accomplished with the ball and he rarely wastes possession when he gets it; Luke McGee at right wing and midfield, who is extremely composed on the ball, never loses possession and always uses the ball intelligently. His ability to control possession is one of the key factors in Panther success this season.