Kenlee Newcom admitted both she and the team had a sluggish start, but some halftime adjustments got the Daviess County soccer team back on track for a 4-0 win over Apollo.
Newcom had a pair of goals and an assist for the Lady Panthers (2-2-1, 2-1 District 9), who picked up the win at home Tuesday against the E-Gals (2-3, 0-3).
“I think the first half, we started off a little rough, but in the second half (head coach David Sandifer) gave us a good talk and we realized what we were doing wrong,” Newcom said. “We learned to start passing and not playing as one (person). We had to play as a team.”
Though they largely dominated possession, the Lady Panthers only got one goal in the opening half. Chloe Hinchcliffe found an open Meredith Campbell streaking up the middle, and Campbell beat the defense to find the back of the net.
Despite the goal, Newcom said DCHS had to adjust and clean up their game before heading back out for the second half. The change worked, and Newcom got a couple of goals with an assist in between them. Her goals were assisted by Campbell and Lauren Fuqua, while Newcom set up a score for Bobbi Sandifer.
“My friends were encouraging me, and my coaches were telling me what I needed to improve on, so the second half I went out and focused on what I was doing wrong and tried to fix it,” she said. “In the second half, we changed our formation, but I think most of it was mental. We didn’t come out ready to play.”
On the other end of the field, Apollo head coach Mason Head said he couldn’t be happier with the way his team played. They didn’t get a win, but it was the best performance his team has had so far, and he said the team has shown tremendous growth since the opening game against Owensboro Catholic 14 days ago.
“Scoreline aside, I don’t know that I really remember being prouder of a team,” Head said. “It’s no secret that Daviess County and Catholic are the two front-runners in our region. Their bench runs deep. Ours doesn’t run as deep, and I think that showed as the game went on.”
Led by several impressive saves by goalkeeper Zoe Floyd, the Apollo defense was able to stymie the Lady Panthers attack for much of the game. Head said calling the performance by Floyd “pretty good” would be an understatement.
“There aren’t enough good things to say about her and the way she played tonight,” Head said. “Even the play she got hurt on, it was an aggressive play coming out, but she’s was doing exactly what she had to do.”
Midway through the second half, Floyd had a collision with an attacker that caused here to come out of the game, though Head said she will be fine and will return. Keely Eans, who served as goalkeeper in previous seasons, stepped in when Floyd came out.
Head was glad he didn’t have to worry about that transition and can rely on different team members to fill in as necessary.
“It’s certainly comforting to have that,” Head said. “It illustrates the selflessness of our team — willing to do whatever, whenever.”
Going forward, Head hopes the team can continue to make progress, but he wants to make sure the girls are ready to take the next step.
“I can put a game plan together, but ultimately, they’re the ones playing the game,” he said. “They’re the ones who are out there seeing and playing and knowing what’s going on. Before we can do anything as far as the next step, our coaching staff has to talk to them and get a feel for where they are and what they feel we need to work on.”
For Daviess County, Newcom said the team has to work on coming out firing on all cylinders to start a game, something that has plagued the Lady Panthers in several games this season.
“I think we need to come out more physical,” she said. “We need to come out mentally prepared, because that’s been our case all year.”
Up next for Daviess County is a home game at 7 p.m. Thursday against Henderson County. Apollo will host Evansville Christian School at 5 p.m. Friday.