BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – Entering the 2017 IHSAA Girls Soccer State Tournament, the last time the Western Lady Panthers had won a sectional title, not a single player had been born. That ended last Saturday night when the Panthers defeated Mississinewa 3-1 in the Class 2A Marion Sectional to end the 21-year championship draught. In the championship game, Western jumped to a 3-0 first half lead and then held on to claim its second-ever girls soccer sectional title and first since 1996.
It only took 18 minutes for Samantha Garber to find Alex Parr for the first Panthers goal. Eight minutes later, Sophie Weigt headed in a corner kick from Brooklyn Garber. It took just 120 seconds for the Panthers to find the net a third time as the Garber-Parr combo lit the scoreboard a second time – this time it was Parr feeding Garber for the goal and a 3-0 lead. Western goalie Madlyn Beechy only needed to make two saves in the contest.
According to Western Athletic Director Josh Larsh, the 2017 championship has a direct relation to the 1996 title team – junior Faith Lytle’s mother (Alisha Fernung-Boone) was a member of the first title team.
The Panthers had advanced to the championship match following a thrilling overtime win over four-time defending sectional champion Marion – a team that had eliminated the Lady Panthers three consecutive years.
Western (16-2) will battle Columbia City (9-6-2) in the Class 2A Marion Regional on Saturday at 10 a.m. Game two features No. 8 Bellmont (15-2-1) and Yorktown (11-5-1) at noon with the winners meeting at 7 p.m.
Eastern falls in boys finals
One hundred minutes of action was not enough for Eastern and Liberty Christian as the teams went to a penalty shootout to determine the champion of the IHSAA Class 1A Taylor Boys Soccer Sectional championship match. Unfortunately, for the second consecutive year, Eastern fell in a title match shootout.
Down 1-0, Eastern (8-10) tied the contest in the 51st minute on a Lance VanMetre goal from 12 yards. Knotted at one after regulation, neither team scored in the pair of 10 minute overtime periods. Both teams hit their first four penalty shots. Liberty Christian hit its fifth while Eastern hit the post and missed to end the contest.
Panthers fall in boys championship
The Western Panthers ended its season with a 3-0 loss to Marion in the championship match of the Class 2A Oak Hill Boys Soccer Sectional. R.J. Macomber tallied all three goals for a hat trick to lead the Giants. Western ended its season 11-8-1.