SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– The Drury Panthers kicked off conference with a late winner against the Lewis Flyers to extend their winning streak to four.
Drury continues their winning streak as they move to 4-1-0 overall and 1-0-0 in the league, while the Flyers drop to 1-4-1 and 0-1-0 in the GLVC.
Heading into the matchup on a three-game winning streak, the Panthers have still not played a true home game as this matchup between the Panthers and Flyers took place at Lake Country Soccer field, not the usual Harrison Stadium.
The first half hour was dominated by the Panthers as they outnumbered the Flyers in shots 8-1. By the end of the first half, the shots leaned heavily in favor of Drury, 14-2 with Tara Simon leading all players with three. Possession also favored the home side as Drury controlled 65% of the ball, but the scoreline remained unchanged at 0-0.
At the start of the second half the results remained the same until a free kick was given just outside the Drury box. Melisa Hadzic struck the set piece over the four-person wall and off the crossbar as goalkeeper Kaitlin Knetzke could not put a fingertip to the shot. The ball was eventually cleared out and the chance missed for the visiting Flyers. After a few yellow cards were shown for either side, the Panthers finally got the chance they were looking for as a foul by Anna Stearns on Bella Hernandez took place in the box and Drury was awarded a penalty in the 88th minute. Ines Villanueva Casal stepped up and placed the shot in the top left corner to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead which they held on to, extending their winning streak to four games, their record on the season to 4-1-0, and their conference record to 1-0-0.
Drury Head Coach Justin Olson on the GLVC and the importance of starting out strong in this conference: “We always talk about this to our recruits about how tough this conference is. Lewis is a well-coached team, and Coach Koenig has been there a long time and he’s done a really good job. We found a way to win in the final two minutes…three points is three points. We’ll take the win and look to build on it from here.”
In the end, the Panthers outshot the Flyers 22 to 7 with Kaitlin Knetzke making two saves and earning herself her third straight shutout. Bekah Nielsen made seven saves for Lewis as Melisa Hadzic led the visitors in shots with three. Simon led all players in the contest with six shots and two on target.
Olson on his fifth-year goalkeeper: “They had some chances to score, our goalkeeper came up big time. That’s what we expect from Kaitlin, She is a great player, this is a great team win and it’s good to get our first conference win.”
The Panthers return to action on Sunday, Sept. 17 against Indianapolis at Harrison Stadium. Kickoff will be at noon.