North Carroll didn't do anything fancy last night at No. 15 Westminster. The Panthers simply outworked the Owls from start to finish in coming away with a big early-season field-hockey victory.
Lisa Engel had a goal and an assist and set the tone for North Carroll by hustling all over the field. Jessica Pickard added a goal in the first few minutes as the Panthers scored a 2-0 victory over Westminster.
North Carroll (3-0 overall, 3-0 in county, 0-0 in Central Maryland Conference) now has outscored its opponents by 8-0. The Panthers used the same formula in this game that they've employed in their others - just trying to outwork their opponents.
"We're not really a finesse team," North Carroll coach Denean Koontz said. "But we want to get to every loose ball first. That's one of the things we talk about every day."
The Panthers did just that last night, swarming around Westminster players when they did manage to get the ball. That hustling style stopped the Owls from moving the ball downfield with any consistency.
In fact, Westminster (1-1, 0-1, 0-0) rarely got the ball into the North Carroll circle and never got a dangerous shot on goal. North Carroll goalie Brittany Wigley had two saves, but both came when she ventured out of the cage to kick shots away.
The Owls also never drew any corner hits in the game. They kept trying to push the ball into the North Carroll end, but were stopped time and again.
Engel and others helped by clearing the ball quickly from the Panthers' end almost every time. The speedy Engel often took off on long runs down the wing, blasted the ball out of trouble or outran an opponent to the ball.
"We have good teamwork and we [work hard]," Engel said. "That's our goal against every team."
Westminster also played good defense, usually shutting down the Panthers when they got the ball into the circle. North Carroll had few chances, also, but the Panthers were able to convert them.
The first goal was the key, coming when Pickard knocked in a loose ball from in front after Westminster goalie Lindsay Leese kicked away a shot by Engel. That gave North Carroll a 1-0 lead just 6 minutes, 21 seconds into the game.
"That helped a lot," Engel said.
Engel helped even more in the second half. She fired a bullet from 10 yards that Westminster goalie Amanda Diehl couldn't handle, and the Panthers had a 2-0 lead with 8:21 left. Mandy Pickard got the assist on the goal that sealed the victory.