A season of injuries and learning experiences have left the Panthers girls’ soccer team with a tough opponent to kick off the regional tournament this week.
The Lady Panthers are set to face off against the number one seed Collinsville Kahoks in the first round of the IHSA Regional tournament in Collinsville on Wednesday.
In order to overcome the Kahoks, coach Dippel says his team will need to come out of the gate strong and minimize their mistakes early in the game.
“We need to come out ready to play,” said Dippel. “There have been games we don’t come out ready and end up having to fight back. If we can withstand their pressure and get a few opportunities in the offensive end, it will be key for us to start.”
Playing from behind is exactly what the met Panthers had to do when they faced off against Collinsville earlier this season. Back in March when the two teams met, the Kahoks put in three goals in the first half in an eventual 5-2 loss for the Lady Panthers.
A few bumps in the road were to be expected for O’Fallon, whose roster contains a young core of underclassmen. Part of that young core is current goal leader for the Panthers, Sam Stutsman. In her sophomore season, Stutsman has a team leading ten goals. Two of her goals this season were against Collinsville in the 5-2 loss.
To prepare for their biggest test this season, coach Dippel and the Panthers are sticking to their usual game plan.
“It will be a tough matchup for us. Collinsville is a good team and a field of good, quick players. We will play the same overall game. At this point in the playoffs we don’t want to change too much. “
Although they won’t be making any massive changes to their playbook in preparation for the first round of the regional tournament, the Panthers are practicing penalty kicks in case they are required.
“We don’t want to go into it and not have practiced penalty kicks if it comes to that,” said Dippel.