Panther Soccer edges F-S, sets up Cat Clash in district finals
By Jim Turner

Posted on October 10, 2019 11:59 AM

For the first time in 19 seasons, Russellville Soccer is headed to region!

A 2-1 win over Franklin-Simpson in the 13th District opening round Tuesday has earned Coach Jeramy Rust’s Panthers slots in Thursday’s finals against home-standing Logan County and in next week’s Fourth Region Tournament.

Sophomore Avery Flener kicked in the tie-breaking game winner in the final minute of regulation. Classmate Dustin Brown had scored the Panthers’ other goal early in the game.

Senior Nathan Cates is the RHS goalkeeper.

Also playing in the historic win were Cameron Beasley, Milo Brooks, Dalton Gilbert, Blaine Holley, Gram Humphrey, Lazaro Lopez, Weilhang Ni, Daylan Roberts. Luke Skipworth, Benjamin Slack, Jeremiah Smith, Kevin Vera and Alejandro Zepeda.

Beating Franklin was not a fluke. The teams played three times this year and all three decisions were by a single goal. In a 4-3 Wildcat win on Aug. 27, Flener scored a pair of goals with an assist, Gilbert scored the other goal and Smith had two assists. Cates stopped 12 of Franklin’s 16 shots on goal.

The on Sept. 17, the Panthers won 2-1. Brown, who is also the kicker for the football team, had a goal and an assist while Gilbert added the other goal. Cates was 12 of 13 in saves.

The win was the first in the postseason for the Panthers since Coach Tom Thompson’s 2005 team beat Grayson County 3-2 in the opening round before losing to Franklin in the semifinals. It was the Seventh District then with more teams involved.

In 2001 RHS beat Butler County in the tournament opener but fell to Franklin in the second round. Most of the district losses have been to Franklin.

That last trip to region in 2000 was the result of wins over Butler County and Warren Central. The Panthers then lost to Bowling Green in the district finals. Future Panther soccer coach and athletic director Nathan Thompson was the offensive star of that team.

The Panthers went into district play with a 4-18 record in this century. It was their first 13th District win. The new format with soccer playing in their basketball/baseball/softball/volleyball format ever since 2012. Russellville did not field a soccer team for three seasons, 2011-13.

The Panthers are 11-9-1 going into the championship match.

Game time is 7:30 p.m. Thursday at LCHS.

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