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Panthers shut out Leopards

It was a lonely game for Lecanto keeper Justin Marks, as the Panthers (14-1) refused to give Hernando an inch of scoring room Wednesday night, topping the Leopards 6-0.

The defending Class 4A champions kept Hernando's Jantzen Maynard busy. The keeper jumped and slid his way to 15 saves.

As for Marks, he waited. And waited. And waited.

Less than five minutes into the first half, Faubricio Leiva scored off a hard kick into the middle of the goal.

The crowd cheered as Marks celebrated from afar.

Three minutes later it was Chris Hudak's turn, passing to junior Jon Lowe, who sent a low header into the net for his first of three goals.

Marks applauded from the opposite end of the field.

Lecanto's defense dominated, keeping the ball close and well out of scoring distance for the Leopards (4-8-3).

Then, with 22:11 left in the first half, Hernando's Sergio Pinzon let loose from the left corner and Marks, finally, had the ball.

It was the first of two saves for the senior goalie, who then looked on as Lecanto put Richard Good in position to score with less than two minutes left in the half.

A strong breakaway by Trevor McDonald led to Marks' second save in the second half. Leiva then turned to Lowe again, teaming up for another goal.

With just under 10 minutes to play, Leiva stepped up, passing to Dustin Elder, whose shot from the middle of the net was deflected then forced in at the right corner by Hudak.

Little more than a minute later, the lethal Leiva and Lowe combination struck again.

"I had three great assists, that's all," Lowe said.

As the clock ran out the Panthers walked off the field with a smile, with Marks again in their midst.

It was a good night for Lecanto.

And judging by the smile on Marks' face, it was a good night to be a goalie, too.