The Litchfield Lady Panthers soccer season kicked off Monday, March 18, against Civic Memorial. The Eagles are a Class 2A team that bowed out of the state tournament in the round of eight last year. Litchfield gave the visitors a fierce battle, finally falling 3-1 in a game that was up for grabs the entire way.
The Panthers jumped on top 25 minutes into the first half when Devan Morgan turned an attack by Civic Memorial into offense for the Panthers.
After winning the ball, Morgan found Izzy Ray on the outside. Ray found some space and delivered a clever ball to Maddie Diamond, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
Nine minutes later the Eagles would tie the score on a ball that used some of the uneven surface to find its way past keeper Becky Painter.
Litchfield almost went right back on top when Jordan Morgan made a nifty pass to Diamond, sending her in alone, but Diamond couldn’t convert.
Civic Memorial showed why they were one of the best teams in the state last year by finishing a cross with a highlight reel header. The Eagles added another goal before the half as they were finally able to get in behind the defense.
Litchfield’s defense of Sydney Hoehl, Jordan Ramey, and a combination of Audrey Fisher, Jordan Minkevich and Allison Marburger shut down the visiting Eagles in the second half.
The defense was backstopped by a couple of resplendent saves by Painter. Despite threatening, the home team offense was unable to solve the visitors defense in the final half.
The Panthers traveled to Virden to play North Mac on Wednesday, March 20. Litchfield didn’t score a lot of goals, but thoroughly dominated the contest, winning 2-0.
Playing into a biting wind and on a sloppy field, the Panthers saw shot after shot sail wide of its intended target in the first half.
Regrouping after a scoreless first half, Litchfield turned up the pressure in the second. The offense forced five straight corner kicks, finally banging one home to break the scoreless tie.
Jordan Morgan’s cross found Ellen Fleming at the top of the six yard box. Fleming slid it to her sister, Greta Fleming, for the games first goal.
With the pressure still on North Mac, Jordan Morgan sent Maddie Diamond in all alone to get the insurance goal and make it 2-0.
Midfielders Karly Kruse, Carson Jackson, Izzy Ray, Ellen Fleming and Devan Morgan kept the pressure on North Mac all game, barely letting the them across midfield in the second half. Becky Painter recorded her first clean sheet of the season, blanking the home team.
Litchfield will host the Panther Classic next week with games starting Monday at 4:30.
March 18 at Litchfield
Civic Memorial 3 0 - 1
Litchfield 1 0 - 1
Litchfield Scoring: Maddie Diamond (Jordan Morgan).
March 20 at Virden
Litchfield 0 2 - 2
North Mac 0 0 - 0
Litchfield Scoring: Greta Fleming (Ellen Fleming), Maddie Diamond (Jordan Morgan). Litchfield Goalkeeper: Becky Painter.
Record: Litchfield (1-1).
March 25-30 at Litchfield
Purple Panther Girls Soccer Classic
Pool 1: Taylorville, Litchfield, Greenville
Pool 2: Auburn, Hillsboro, Staunton
Monday, March 25
4:30 p.m. - Staunton vs. Hillsboro
6:30 p.m. - Litchfield vs. Taylorville
Wednesday March 27
4:30 p.m. - Taylorville vs. Greenville
6:30 p.m. - Hillsboro vs. Auburn
Friday, March 29
4:30 p.m. - Greenville vs. Litchfield
6:30 p.m. - Auburn vs. Staunton
Saturday, March 30
10 a.m. - Fifth Place Game
12 p.m. - Third Place Game
2 p.m. - First Place Game