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Panthers top Eagles in battle of unbeatens

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Jennings County’s girls soccer squad pushed its unblemished mark deeper into the season after rolling past Brown County 7-4 Tuesday evening.

The Panthers entered the contest looking to improve to 6-0 and reached it by overwhelming an Eagles team that also came into the showdown unbeaten at 3-0. Both teams dealt with a muddy pitch and a muggy atmosphere, but only Jennings County learned to survive when the action got ugly.

“It’s nice to get the win, but the game just wasn’t our best in a longshot,” Panthers coach Kate Gray said. “It was not smooth out there, especially with our defense.”

Fortunately for Gray’s team, its offense clicked enough to build a 5-2 lead at intermission before playing the Eagles more evenly down the stretch.

With play knotted 2-2, the Panthers went in front for good when sophomore Lydia Borgman blasted in a free kick in the 18th minute. The hosts then added another score less than 10 minutes later after freshman Lexi Brown lobbed a pass over the Brown County defense at midfield and found sophomore teammate Olivia VanOsdal racing uncovered down the field.

VanOsdal dribbled the ball in close against Eagles goalkeeper Amber Sizemore and drilled the back of the net to push the lead      to 4-2.

Senior Sydney Kirchner then made things 5-2 after stepping in front of a Brown County backfield pass and quickly converting it into a quick goal. Kirchner finished with a trio of scores, as well as adding an assist late in the game, feeding Justine Corya.

Kirchner’s first score came in the fifth minute, just 32 seconds after the Eagles opened the contest with an unassisted goal by Sarah Kurdziel. Kirchner then added a breakaway score to put the Panthers in front 2-1 before Brown County answered back when sophomore Maddy Fields slipped past a pair of Jennings defenders.

Kurdziel and Fields each finished with a pair of goals, but it wasn’t enough to offset an attacking Panthers offense that outshot their guests 19-8.

“We just had poor communication in our backfield and couldn’t contain,” Brown County coach David Phelps said. “Their two players (Kirchner and Corya) played well together.”

Borgman also finished with multiple scores for the Panthers, who have now totaled 29 goals on the season.

“We only scored 23 goals all of last season, so offensively we’re doing well,” Gray said. “But defensively, we are going to have to continue to improve if we want to keep things going.”

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