The North Putnam girls' soccer team dropped its contest with visiting Speedway Thursday night. The Cougars lost to the Sparkplugs 7-1.
"I'm proud of the fact that for such a young and inexperienced group, they keep playing hard," North Putnam head coach Scott Spencer said. "They want to be right there and that's a credit to them. They work hard and try their best."
For the first 27 minutes of Thursday night's contest, the Cougars held Speedway even, surviving multiple shots on goal and a pressuring defense.
But with the half coming to a close, the Sparkplugs went on a tear.
Speedway scored for the first time at the 12:27 mark when Lorian Tharp connected on a goal. She was joined 26 seconds later by Kara Tierney, putting Speedway up 2-0.
The Sparkplugs would add three more goals, with one from Marin Borst and two more from Tharp.
As the horn sounded ending the half, the Cougars walked to the sideline down 5-0 and seemingly shell-shocked at the Speedway blitzkrieg.
But the Cougar squad that took the pitch in the second half looked reborn.
"That's what we talked about at halftime. They needed to go out with a little more intensity than what they had," Spencer commented.
Energy and more offensive aggression sparked the Cougars in the second half. Senior Ashlee Pinney provided strong defense and held the Speedway progression on the right side to a minimum.
Like the first half, the Cougars held the Sparkplugs scoreless for 20 minutes until Kelly Adams broke through and scored with 20:11 on the clock.
The Cougars second half intensity finally paid of at the 10:53 mark when freshman Tasha Brewer slid a shot between the keeper and a defender, cutting the lead to 6-1 in favor of Speedway.
A familiar name would add the final goal of the game as Tharp scored on a penalty kick with 3:55 remaining.
Possession is key to any successful sports team and although Spencer acknowledged the inexperience of his team, he also noted his team is working on those fundamentals that will make a difference.
"We've been working mostly on shielding the ball and keeping possession a little bit longer. Our tendency, being a young team, is as soon as the ball comes, to get rid of it," Spencer pointed out. "I'm trying to get them to take a minute, take a breath, position their bodies where they can keep possession and make then make a nice pass."
The Cougars will compete in the Southmont Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday.
At North Putnam
Speedway 5 2 -- 7
North Putnam 0 1 --1
Speedway -- Tharp 12:27
Speedway -- Tierney 12:01
Speedway -- Tharp 3:56
Speedway -- Borst 2:37
Speedway -- Tharp :35
Speedway -- Adams 20:11
North Putnam -- Brewer 10:53
Speedway -- Tharp 3:55
Saves -- Speedway 2, North Putnam 12.
Shots -- Speedway 18, North Putnam 6.
Next game -- The Cougars will compete in the Southmont Invitational at 9 a.m. on Saturday.