The aggressive defense of the Knoxville Panthers drew the Clarke Indians boys soccer team offsides just enough Monday night to keep Clarke off the scoreboard as Knoxville picked up a 2-0 win.
Clarke’s best opportunity came in the 52nd minute when Amani Fry took a rebound deflecting off a sliding Knoxville keeper and put it in the back of the net.
Fry and the sideline celebrated only to see the far-side assistant official holding his flag up, signaling one of several offside calls.
“We try to play our game and try to create opportunities to score. We’ve scored some goals, but we still need to work on that as it is very important.” said head coach Jorge Avalos. “When you score their mentality changes as a team. ... We need to finish in the last half of the field.”
The Indians had two more quality chances in the attacking third to open up the contest.
Just three minutes in, a Clarke corner kick found the head of an Indian player in the box, but the ensuing shot was sent over the top of the crossbar.
In the 14th minute the first of several offsides calls halted another Clarke scoring threat.
It was Knoxville that earned the next opportunity, putting away a shot off the post and into the back of the net as Panther forward Elliott Schmidt broke the stalemate.
After a sliding save by Clarke goalie Zane Hart, Knoxville came back with another chance in the box in the 24th minute and earned a penalty kick after a player hit the ground in the box.
However, it was Hart who had the final say, diving to his right to deflect away the Knoxville PK and keep Clarke within a score.
It wasn’t Hart’s only big save of the contest as the 50th minute brought another challenge his way.
A Knoxville attacker stepped through the Clarke defense and roped a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box that Hart once again deflected aside.
“He’s doing really good,” said Avalos. “He does what he needs to do.”
The Panthers went on to take a few more shots on goal, but nothing was as threatening at their opportunity in the 50th minute until the game’s waning moments.
With less than two minutes remaining, Knoxville’s Braedon Pollard sealed the deal with a ball that trickled across the line and into the goal.
Nearly the entire contest was played with rain falling from the sky, adding to the difficulty with the ball having some extra skip to it.
“We’ve played Chariton and Des Moines Christian in this weather so it’s getting kind of old,” said Avalos. “But you never know what you’re going to be playing in once you hit substate so you might as well get used to it.”
Lady Indians fall
The first 20 minutes of the contest was regarded by the coaching staff as the best soccer the Lady Indians had played all year against a then 6-3 Knoxville squad.
Just a 1-0 game midway through the first half, Clarke was controlling possession and pushing the ball past the Panther defense in hopes of finding a foot for a breakaway.
In the 19th and 20th minutes, Knoxville registered two quick goals and controlled the play into halftime with a 6-0 lead before winning by a 10-0 margin.
“We start really good, but we get gassed out,” Avalos said. “As soon as we get a little tired that kind of gets in our head.”
Coach Avalos noted that the confidence of getting on the board, especially if its first, will change the mindset of the Lady Indians and bring in confidence.
Nancy Montoya ended the game with five saves for Clarke including keeping a couple of near goals out of the net.
Injuries have also been a tough spot for the Lady Indians as well.
The Clarke girls took on Newton Tuesday night before hosting Senior Night for both boys and girls squads Thursday against Chariton.