As a central defender, Morgan Martindale doesn’t get a chance to score a lot of goals.
But when the Columbus East junior saw an opening down the middle of the field midway through the second half of a scoreless game Tuesday evening, she made a run at the goal.
Martindale dished off a pass to Sarah Park, who touched it back to Martindale. From there, Martindale made a move and put a shot past Jennings County keeper Mackenzie Byram in the 58th minute for the lone score in a 1-0 Hoosier Hills Conference win.
“I saw there was a gap, so I decided to take it up, and then I saw Sarah, so I just passed to her, and she laid it off brilliantly,” Martindale said.
The goal was Martindale’s first of season. She just returned last week from a concussion, which had caused her to miss a few games.
Martindale is glad to be back on the pitch.
“I missed being a part of the team and being able to be out there,” Martindale said. “But I learned a lot when I was on the bench just watching them, and I told them what I saw, and I feel like we’ve improved on those things.”
The Panthers (5-6-2, 1-3-1) did not manage a shot on goal and had only three shots total. The last of those came in the 78th minute, when Lexi Brown put a shot from close range just over the goal.
That was the closest that Jennings came to scoring.
“Defensively, we have excellent players who come day in and day out and do their job,” East coach Ilya Schwartzman said. “I thought they were absolutely solid tonight.”
The Olympians (4-4-1, 3-0-1) finished with 26 shots, putting 15 on goal.
“We had a ton of chances,” Schwartzman said. “We created really well. Some of our shot selection and our finishing can improve, but we applied good pressure.”
Byram recorded 14 saves for the Panthers. They were missing senior captain and starting center back Annsley Blackburn because of a concussion.
Jennings coach Kate Gray said that made a difference in Monday’s game.
“She’s the voice of our backline, and missing her is creating just a few little breakdowns here and there that ultimately cost us a goal tonight,” Gray said. “But it’s hard to put it all on the backline.”
The one-goal difference was as close as the Panthers have been to East in several years. Gray thinks that is something her team can build on heading into the final three games of the regular season and then the postseason.
“We’ve not matched up to East very well in years’ past, so to have a 1-0 score, it’s respectable on our part and respectable on their part,” Gray said. “Tonight was, I wouldn’t say to our potential, but it was certainly much better, and more importantly, I got grit out of them tonight, and that’s what we have been talking about — grit and guts and heart and all those things that ultimately make a team.”