March 17th 2017
by Gordon Weidle
What a tremendous team effort and character building evening on a night which was rife with challenge and adversity. Playing away against a good team the game started quickly without player introductions or the anthem. Obviously, Country Club reservations for dinner were pending later that evening. I had expected Hors d’oeuvres and umbrella drinks but that didn’t happen either. The Panther bench was already thin to start with Michael Haynes out due to Illness and John Roberts still sidelined with a leg injury. The depth of the squad was further depleted in the second minute when there was a scary head - knock between Mick Pattison and Brandon Weidle. Both players were going for a ball to clear and not seeing each other smacked noggins. Both went down hard and lay on the deck for a period that made everybody uncomfortable on both teams including the fans in the stands regardless of who they were supporting. One of those moments where you put competition aside and focus instead on the health and well being of the athlete. A moment where all small talk ceases and you can feel the genuine concern. Both players were helped off the field and full credit to the Woodward trainer who took charge and assessed the guys for symptoms. Coach made it apparent that he would not take any further risks and Mick and Brandon’s night was over almost before it had started.
Play was understandably scrambled for a few minutes afterwards but then the entire Panther team elevated their play, significantly, led by tremendous performances from Ryan Shanahan and Leo Bueno in the midfield. They put this team on their shoulders and every Panther followed their lead. The Panther momentum would not be denied once it started and the first goal came in the 25th minute. The “formula” again produced results. Bonilla crossed the ball. The diminutive Woodward keeper could not secure the ball as he went up and Jonny on the spot headed it back towards goal. Sam Pompeo elevated as the ball drifted towards him and flicked it backwards and watched as it dribbled over the line. A header relay so to speak. The Panthers celebrated as did the faithful. Just before the half Jack Baker launched a right-footed missile which found the upper half of the corner and the War Eagles seemed stunned and off balance.
The Panthers continued to “feel” it in the second half. Brimming with confidence Bueno even tried a ‘ Maradona” move to spin around a defender to gain a throw in. In the 57th minute he again shredded the War Eagle defense and got the ball to Sam Pompeo who pushed it past a prone Woodward keeper who had not grown in stature from the first half. 3-1 Panthers but they were not done yet and wanted to put an exclamation mark on this one. In the 78th minute Sam Pompeo finished for this 3rd of the evening and the Panthers won it 4-1. The Panthers to a man were excellent in achieving this victory. How do you end such a memorable evening? The bus not starting of course. The Pattison’s and I appreciate all those who reached out to check on the well being of the guys. As you know, both are fine and anxious to get back in this week. It will be good to have more players ready to go as we head into the heart of the schedule before spring break.