With her opponent down a player, Lady Bulldogs head coach Rebekkah Bullard decided to level the playing field Tuesday night.
Though the Lady Bulldogs started the game with 10 players to match A.R. Johnson, they were still too much for the Lady Panthers to handle as Harlem won 7-0.
“Sportsmanship is important,” said Bullard on why she started 10.
It took a while for the Lady Bulldogs to break the game open. Micah Mullis got Harlem on the board at 30:38 after a Lady Panthers turnover, then they didn’t score again until there was 17:26 left in the half when Shelby Wilson placed a penalty kick perfectly in the lower right corner.
Between goals, Lady Panthers (0-3) goalkeeper Taylor Harris made five saves. The Lady Bulldogs (2-5) peppered Harris all night and she kept the score relatively close, finishing with 20 saves.
Olivia Fitzgerald was the starter who remained on the bench to start the game, but she made things happen once she got on the field, scoring a hat trick. She scored the team’s third and fourth goals in the first half, with her final goal of the night coming with 5:11 to play.
“Getting the hat trick feels good, but I was being a little bit of a ball hog there at the end,” admitted Fitzgerald.
Mullis finished with two goals and Jade Long added one.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and it shows that it pays off,” Bullard said.
In the boys game, when A.R. Johnson scored its first goal on a free kick from 35 yards out a little over a minute into the game, it set the tone as they beat the Bulldogs 5-1. The Panthers improved to 4-1 with the win, while the Bulldogs dropped to 4-2.
Bulldogs first-year head coach Stephaney Crenshaw said the team was in a new defense but reverted to the old one after the score.
“When they scored the goal the boys freaked out and we went back to the old defense,” said Crenshaw. “They scored four goals on the old defense and we went back to the new flat four defense and they didn’t score again.”
The first goal, scored by the Panthers’ Billy Cleveland, was a bit fluky as it found its way through the defense and the goalkeeper. Cleveland left no doubt with the second goal, as he rifled a shot into the left corner on a penalty kick with 33:26 left in the half. The Panthers added two more goals, taking a 4-0 lead into halftime.
The Bulldogs mounted a small comeback as Matt Logue got the ball to Austin Kissinger, who stuck it in after the Panthers couldn’t clear the ball following a Bulldogs corner kick. The score cut the lead to 4-1 with 36:46 to play. Logue’s shot six minutes later went off the crossbar, just missing the top of the net and the Panthers turned it into a goal on the other end, all but ending the game.