Panthers succumb to senior spirit
OCT. 26, BLAZER STADIUM—
Tonight's game harkened back to the Blair girls' very first game of the season against the Wootton Patriots, one which the Blazers lost dismally (6-0). That afternoon, Blair could not catch a break, missed chances to score and left the game frustrated. This time, however, the Blazers came out on top, celebrating senior night with a well-executed, feel-good 4-0 victory over the Paint Branch Panthers, who tonight surrendered to the pure heart and spirit of the Blair team.
Senior night has typically been very successful for the Blazers, as seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen alike rally together, inspired by the prospect of the coming post-season. In tonight's game, every team member contributed to Blair's decisive victory in some way, whether through gritty defensive moves, gutsy offensive strikes or spirited cheering from the sidelines.
After pulling ahead within the first ten minutes of the match after an authoritative goal by senior Ria Richardson, the Blazers attacked the Panthers with a barrage of aggressive moves, meanwhile making sure that the Blair goal saw little action. Despite a minor surge late in the second half from Panther strikers, the Blazers breezed through this game with the poise of seasoned veterans.
Chilly weather did not stop Blair from starting the match with a lot of energy. They took the first five minutes to gather momentum before mounting their attack and finding success in just the ninth minute in Richardson's goal, which was assisted by senior co-captain Vicky Dean).
While offense started out well, the Blazers on defense also displayed their mettle during the early minutes of the first half. Several girls made diving stops in order to protect the goal, and senior keeper Julia Simon-Mishel saved a few nail-biting situations from turning into goals for Paint Branch.
After several promising charges from senior Carrie Cox, sophomore Emma Liebmann was able to pad Blair's lead with a second goal in the 22nd minute off of a corner kick. This goal silenced the Panthers for much of the rest of the half until a Paint Branch player was allowed a penalty kick in the 39th minute. Her shot was accurate but luckily soft enough to easily be blocked by Simon-Mishel.
The second half began much like the first, with immediate offense from spirited Blazers. Cox scored off of a penalty kick in the ninth minute, and like Richardson before her, set the tone for the second half. A mere two minutes later, Dean was able to draw Paint Branch's keeper out of the goal and, through some fancy footwork, maneuver the ball just past her. With no one left on defense, the soft shot dribbled into the back of the net, followed closely by an enthusiastic Dean pumping her fists in the air with joy.
Soon after, senior Lindsey Fowler-Marques got a shot into the goal, but unfortunately saw her contribution overruled by an off-sides call. The final minutes of the second half were characterized by confidence and ease in the Blazers' play. They worked smoothly as a team and supported one another on every play. The girls were not able to add to their lead despite a few close attempts, yet when the whistle blew ending the game, four goals proved quite satisfactory.
Coming off of two consecutive wins, the Blair girls are in a very good position entering the playoffs. The Blazers appear to be peaking at just the right time and will hopefully be able to use their momentum and camaraderie to their advantage in the first round and possibly beyond.
The Blazers first playoff game is this Thursday, Oct. 29 at Watkins Mill at 7:00 p.m.
Ellie Blalock. Ellie is a SENIOR in the CAP program at Blair. She enjoys such activities as traveling, being able to say "water" in six languages and having heart-to-heart chats with eccentric politicians. If you're in need of a laugh, please ask Ellie about her driving record...you … More »