Mead won the war Friday night in its Greater Spokane League showdown at University but the Titans can take solace in the fact that they won a battle on their way to defeat.
The Panthers (14-0, 7-0) used a first-half penalty-kick goal by Natalie Kehl and a pair of second-half goals to post a 3-1 win and take sole possession of first place.
University (9-3, 6-1) was the first team to score on the Panthers in GSL play this season. Mead had outscored its GSL opponents 22-0.
The Titans were whistled for a hand-ball penalty at the 31-minute mark of the first half, setting up a penalty kick for Kehl from 12 yards out in the middle of the field.
Kehl’s shot on U-Hi goalkeeper Shoni Trickel nicked the left upright and ricocheted into the net, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
“I just tried to relax and stay focused,” said Kehl. “You never know how the game is going to turn out. One goal could be the difference. If I’d have missed it I would have been really mad.”
Mead came out with a vengeance in the second half.
“Our girls knew U-Hi showed up to play after the first half,” said Panthers coach Travis Hanson. “The key for us in the second half was to get our defense involved on the offensive end. Also, we marked Lyndsay Drollinger on No. 11 (Megan Black) because she hurt us in the first half. Our conditioning and fitness paid off for us, too.”
Mead stretched its lead to 2-0 on a goal by Holly Ready 10 minutes into the second half.
The Titans rallied to pull within a goal 2 minutes later when Tasha Warwick blooped a kick over the outstretched arms of Mead goalie Allie Bailey.
The Panthers iced the game on Danelle Zelinski’s goal, with an assist from Kehl in the 67th minute.
“That penalty-kick goal seemed to take the wind out of us,” said Titans coach Brandon Deyarmin. “You could see us slowly losing momentum over the next 10 minutes. Our strength is attacking from the outside, and they pretty much shut down that part of our game in the second half.”
Also in the league, Lewis and Clark (7-5, 5-2) jumped into a tie for third with a 1-0 win at Central Valley (7-5, 4-3); Ferris (9-5, 5-2) joined LC in third place with a 4-0 win at Mt. Spokane (2-10, 2-5); Gonzaga Prep (9-5, 3-4) kept alive its flickering playoff hopes with a 4-1 win that eliminated Shadle Park (5-9, 2-5) from playoff contention; and North Central (2-10, 1-6) notched a 2-0 win at Rogers (2-12, 0-7).
At CV, Anne Floyd gathered in a mishandled ball and scored from 12 yards as LC sank the Bears into fifth place, the final district spot. CV has 13 points, four more than sixth-place G-Prep with two matches remaining.
At Shadle, Alecia Nelson scored two consecutive unassisted goals to rally G-Prep after the Highlanders took a 1-0 lead at 4 minutes.
At Mt. Spokane, Ferris played a give-and-take style in both halves to hand the Wildcats their fifth consecutive loss. Megan Cummings and Mariah McConnaughey took turns with one goal and one assist apiece in the first half. Jenny Lytle and Rachel Lassman repeated the theme in the second half.
At Rogers, Kristin Walters scored from 18 yards before halftime as NC scored its second and third league goals. Rogers has been outscored 29-0 in league matches.
Mead (14-2) clinched a spot in the regional tournament with a 15-4, 15-13, 8-15, 15-5 win at CV (6-10).
Krista Nelson served five points in the first game for the Panthers, who can finish no worse than second place. The league’s top two teams receive automatic, first-round byes at district and berths in the regional tourney.
CV trails sixth-place G-Prep by one game with two remaining. The top six advance to district.
Elsewhere, Rogers (10-6) clinched a district berth outright with a 15-5, 15-1, 15-2 win at University (4-12). Rogers entered the night with a fifth-place tie assured, but with two teams capable of tying the Pirates.
Angel Fairbanks had six kills and four blocks for Rogers.
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