TAMPA — The Plant girls soccer team just hadn't been playing like itself heading into Tuesday night's district game against Bloomingdale.
The Panthers were disappointed with their past two games — a one-goal win over Gaither and a 1-all tie at Alonso — so much so that the upperclassmen held a team meeting to address their funk before playing the Bulls.
The soul searching worked. Plant beat Bloomingdale handily, 3-1, dominating the field of play with its attack even one player down for the game's final 17 minutes after a red card call.
"To beat them twice, we know we're a good team," said Plant senior Amy Werdine, who scored the winning goal in the 48th minute, breaking a 1-1 tie. "It's a confidence booster, especially after our past two performances. Today we told each other we had to get focused and get back to playing Plant soccer.
"For the seniors, we've talked about it in the beginning of the year that if we don't make it to states we consider it a failure," said Werdine, an Appalachian State recruit.
Bloomingdale freshman Elyse Fontecchio scored the first goal 18 minutes in, but less than a minute later a header by Molly Ganther tied the game.
Werdine scored in the 48th minute on a shot from about 25 yards out to give the Panthers (9-1-1) the lead, then nearly made it a two-goal game seven minutes later on a free kick that went over the crossbar. Kaitlyn Steckel made the score 3-1 on a penalty kick in the final seven minutes to close out the Bulls (5-3).
Plant won despite the absence of leading scorer Conner Zwetsch and Abby Meckley.
"Our preparation and mind-set hadn't been there the past couple of games," Plant coach Stephen McGill said. "(Alonso) was a great eye-opener. No one is going to hand you the game. Tonight we were back on form. We were challenging the 50/50 balls. We were going up to the air to win it. We went down a girl and they went harder."