By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
Both Mt. Pleasant soccer teams suffered nail-biting one-goal losses on Thursday evening against Southeast Conference rival Fairfield. The Panther girls had a late rally fall short in a 3-2 loss and the boys fell 1-0 in a defensive struggle on the road.
The Panther girls found themselves in an early hole thanks to a couple first-half goals by Fairfield?s Kristen Burnstedt. Burnstedt scored on a breakaway in the sixth minute of the game, and then popped one over Panther keeper Ayden Ross with 4:35 showing on the first half clock. Going into halftime, it was Fairfield who led, 2-0.
Burnstedt seemingly put the game away early in the second half. She completed the hat-trick less than two minutes into the second half and put the Trojans up 3-0.
The Panthers, however, would not go down without a fight, despite playing without two key players, Melanie Vargas and leading-scorer Mary West, who were sidelined with concussion symptoms.
It was freshman Anna Ostby who stepped up to throw the first punch in the Panthers? comeback attempt. Ostby took advantage of a Trojan turnover and slung the ball into the net, cutting the lead to 3-1 with 21:30 remaining.
?It?s not very often that you get a freshman who wants to lead, and take the free kicks and penalty kicks,? head coach Brennan Williams said about Ostby after the game. ?Confidence comes and you really can?t teach it. You just have it, and she?s got it.?
Ostby was one of a handful of Panther underclassmen who put up a hard fight with their backs against the walls in the second half. Another freshman, Kalyssa Longhurst, gave the Panthers even more hope later in the period.
Longhurst found a little room with a loose ball on the far side of the field with 11 minutes remaining. She sent a sharp grounder towards the Fairfield goal, and the ball snuck right through the keeper?s legs for a goal, cutting the lead to 3-2.
The final 10 minutes saw a handful of chances for Mt. Pleasant, including two corner kicks in the last two minutes, but the Trojans survived and Mt. Pleasant had to settle for a one-goal loss.
The boys? game stayed 0-0 until mid-way through the second half. Fairfield?s Chaysten Titus was able to send one just out of the reach of Panther keeper Nathan Rauenbuhler for the only goal of the game
Mt. Pleasant couldn?t respond with a goal of their own, and the Panther boys fell by one goal for the second time against the Trojans this year.
?We controlled the midfield the majority of the first half, but started breaking down a little bit towards the end of the half,? Panther boys? coach Neil Schmitz said after the game. ?We did a great job, we just couldn?t get any balls in to create opporunities to score.?
The Panther boys will be right back on the field today (Friday) in Albia. Both teams will return to SEC play on Monday, April 30 against Keokuk. The boys will be at home and the girls will be on the road.