|Soccer season ends with shootout loss
By Dan Manley
Advocate Sports Editor
The Montgomery County High School boys’ soccer team saw their season come to an end last Wednesday night at Cunningham Field as Campbell County pulled off a 2-1 upset in a match that went to penalty kicks.
Coach Nick Pannell, coaching in his final game at MCHS, saw his team dominate the match and hold what appeared to be as safe a 1-0 lead as a team could have heading into the game’s final minutes. But the Camels were able to take advantage of a penalty on a handball call against the Tribe to tie the game with just six minutes remaining.
The teams battled through two scoreless over-time periods and then the match went to penalty kicks.
“Once we got to the over-time you felt like they were playing for the shootout, really taking their time and playing defense,” Pannell said.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the shootout session when junior Austin Stigall drilled his shot into the goal after junior goalkeeper Tyson Morton saved Campbell County’s first shot.
However the Indians didn’t score again and the Camels made three shots in a row to win the shootout 3-1.
Montgomery County took the 1-0 lead on a goal by sophomore Ben Miles off an assist from sophomore Noah Lane on a corner kick.
“Having a one goal lead isn’t a really safe place to be,” Pannell said, “but the way our defense was playing you really didn’t get a sense they were going to score on us.”
Of the handball call, Pannell wasn’t in agreement.
“It was hard to tell, it may have touched his hand,” Pannell offered, “but it sure didn’t appear that there was any attempt by our player to use his hand. As he was clearing the ball it may have touched his arm, but according to the rule, we didn’t feel like it should have constituted a handball.
“It’s a very arbitrary rule and the referee has the decision to make,” Pannell added. “There appeared to be no intent to use his hand to affect the play and there was no adverse effect on the game. But the call was made, they scored on the penalty kick and we simply have to live with the outcome.”
The game ended Montgomery County’s season at 14-4-4 and it was the Tribe’s only loss of the season against 10th Region competition as they finished 9-1.
Montgomery County played the match without the services of starting keeper Jared Boston, who was ill.
“Tyson did an outstanding job and again, because of our defense, he didn’t have to deal with a lot of chances during the match,” Pannell said.
The match was the final high school game for five MCHS seniors, including two foreign exchange students.
Mason Anderson, Garrett Craycraft, Jaydon Potts, Julio Panicolo and Frederico Puccetti suited up for the final time for the Indians.
“You really can’t say enough about our seniors, even though it was a small group,” Pannell noted.
“Mason was such a player and battler to come back from a severe knee injury the way he did and Garrett and Jaydon were great players and leaders for this team. I couldn’t be prouder of a senior group and Julio and Frederico, well, these guys added to the flavor of our team and we were fortunate to have them around.”
In the other semifinal round match the Calvary Christian Crusaders upended Clark County, 3-2, and then they came back to defeat Campbell County, 3-1, to win the school’s first regional soccer title.
The Crusaders defied the numerical odds to win the title, moving into the round of 16 with a record of 16-4-1. The school has a high school enrollment of just 146 students, according to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association compared to 1,526 students at Clark County and 1,356 at Campbell County.
“This one will take a little while to really sink in,” Pannell added. “This was a really tough loss, both in the position we were in and the manner in which we lost the match.”
Montgomery County will now look for a new coach to replace Pannell, who was serving as only the second head coach in the history of the Montgomery County boys’ soccer program, following Jeff Lendon.
“This is going to be a really good team going forward,” Pannell said. “The next two classes coming up have some very outstanding talent and I’m going to miss having the chance to coach them.”
Pannell ends his coaching career at Montgomery County with an overall record of 204-97-22 with 10 district championships, four regional crowns and two trips to the Elite Eight.
“What a great experience this has been,” Pannell said. “You always feel like you should have won a few more, gone a little further, helped a few more players be more successful, but overall it’s simply been a lot of fun.
“I’ve worked with great assistant coaches and have had great support from parents and the administration along the way and there are more great memories than I could ever have imagined.
“And ultimately we’ve just had a lot of terrific young men who were very dedicated to the sport and to each other over the years that have made this program successful. They’re going to have a lot of successes in life because of the lessons they’ve learned on the soccer field.”
Pannell said the team will have a post-season banquet in the next couple of weeks.
The Indians have averaged 13.5 wins per season during Pannell’s tenure.