The Panthers suffered their first loss of the season away to a strong Coronado team. Playing on a field of near maximum size, the Panthers failed to effectively use the space this afforded them and fell foul of a number of poor refereeing decisions that made it difficult to get any traction in the game. Starting line up: Huckfeldt, Jarvis, Nogues, Lloyd, Olenak, Stephens, Ruffer, Stevenson, Manthey, Vogel, Montoya.
Coronado relied heavily on their pacey striker who was a constant worry to the Panthers back line. Early exchanges were even but after 10 minutes Coronado scored off a run in behind the Panthers defense. A diagonal through ball was played from the left side and the Coronado striker, who was clearly a couple of yards offside, collected the ball, rounded goalkeeper Hudson Huckfeldt and rolled the ball into the net. Coronado than sought to sit back and hit on the counter attack. The Panthers were not making good use of the width but on the occasions that they did they caused problems for the Coronado defense. A clever ball out wide right found Bryan Montoya who beat the defender on the outside only to be cynically brought down. The foul looked suspiciously close to the edge of the penalty area but the referee awarded a free kick not a penalty and yellow carded the defender. The resulting free kick saw Montoya head narrowly wide off a good delivery from Presten Manthey. Coronado attempted to catch the Panthers on the counter attack but their efforts were restricted to a few off target long range efforts. They had one free kick from 25 yards that Huckfeldt tipped over the crossbar. The Panthers continued to press. on 30 minutes, a fine surge out of defense by Cole Lloyd caught Coronado overcommitted and just inside the Coronado half he found himself up against the yellow carded Coronado defender with an almost clear path to goal beyond him. He beat the defender comfortably only to be brought down with no attempt by the defender to play the ball; a clear yellow card offense. However, the referee decided just to warn the defender, a bit let off for Coronado and one that would help keep the game in their favor. The Panthers had wayward efforts from Manthey and Henry Robledo-Matadamas but failed to trouble the Coronado goalkeeper. Half time 0-1.
The Panthers came out for the second half determined to get into the game. Starting line up: Huckfeldt, Jarvis, Nogues, Lloyd, Olenak, Stephens, Ruffer, Stevenson, Gomez, Manthey, Robledo-Matadamas.
The Panthers exercised more control of the game but over-dribbling was still causing too many turnovers. They equalized 10 minutes into the half when a free kick from out left by Manthey deceived everyone and found Tanner Stevenson right in front of goal, who clipped the ball into the top right corner. All of a sudden the momentum seemed to be with the Panthers. However, the Panthers were then caught twice on the counter attack. For the first occurrence, a Panthers midfielder turned blind on the ball and was dispossessed. A quick pass was played forward and the Coronado striker cut inside and shot impressively into the bottom right corner from just outside the area, leaving Huckfeldt with no chance. For the second occurrence, another turnover in midfield resulted in the same quick pass forward and a layoff to an advancing midfielder who found the same spot. For the Panthers, Tyler Olenak was raiding down the left continually and with 10 minutes to go he got in behind the defense only to be brought down from behind by the yellow carded defender. A two-footed tackle from behind with no contact on the ball is an automatic yellow card but again the referee refused to punish the defender. Also, a penalty could easily have been given since Olenak had one foot on the line of the penalty area but again the referee decided in favor of the home team. The Panthers had a few tame efforts late on but did not sufficiently trouble the goalkeeper. Final score 1-3.
This was a tough game for the Panthers that exposed weaknesses. Good that this happened now in a non-conference game with plenty of time to rectify the problems. Players are holding the ball too long, indulging too much in dribbling in the wrong parts of the field, and consequently failing to move the ball quickly. In addition, we are failing to use the full width of the field and stretch out the opposition defense; this is a long-standing problem. The opposition moved the ball very quickly and never wasted the opportunity to play a positive pass into space for advancing players. We should never be too proud to learn something from the opposition.