No. 6 North Carroll spent most of the early minutes of yesterday's game with Century trying to fight off the Knights' persistent offense. Century kept trying to create scoring chances and nearly scored once about 10 minutes in.
But the visiting Panthers slowly turned things around. They took the lead on a goal by Ashlea Carl with 14:08 left in the first half and remained in command from then on to pull out a 1-0 victory over Century in a Carroll County field hockey game.
No. 13 Century (3-3 overall, 0-2 in county) constantly pressured North Carroll (4-1, 4-0) in the first 10 minutes. The Knights just weren't able to make plays close to the goal as the stingy Panthers defense, led by goalie Caitlin Bach (three saves) plus teammates Ashley Beam, Aly Boltz and Megan Bach, shut them down.
Carl got the game-winning goal on one of North Carroll's first real scoring chances. Teammate Candy Clift sent a perfect pass between Century goalie Jenny Gilbert's legs to Carl, who easily shot it into the empty net.
"We never give up; we always fight," Carl said. "We just were so excited after that and just knew we could do it."
The game belonged to North Carroll from then on. The Panthers finished with a 9-3 edge in shots and dominated play throughout the second half.
North Carroll repeatedly threatened Gilbert (six saves), and the Knights but barely missed on several plays. Kaci Miller nearly scored on a redirected shot early in the second half and almost tipped in another shot later in the game.
The Panthers had possession for most of the second half, pressuring the Century defense time and again. North Carroll made the Knights work by keeping the ball for those long stretches.
"Possession is the name of the game - absolutely," North Carroll coach Denean Koontz said.
Koontz said she's very proud of how well her Panthers have played as a team in the early part of the season, something they again displayed in this game. The defense and offense worked as a unit to take the ball from Century and then quickly move it upfield, something the Knights couldn't stop.
Century's offense was able to make some noise in the final few minutes. The Knights' best chance came in the last minute when Kristin Resutek fired a long shot on goal, but Bach was able to kick it away to save the win.
"The [first] 15 minutes and the last four minutes we stepped it up," Century coach Gayle Taylor said. "They didn't have that fight or that drive yet. But they will. We'll be fine."