The opportunities were there, but the Frankfort High Panthers didn’t strike early in their first game of the Rotary Capital City Classic.
Tied at 0-0 for the first 10 minutes, it wasn’t until Frankfort started taking advantage of its opportunities that the Panthers roared to a 6-2 victory over Owen County Tuesday night at Sower Field.
“We out-possessed them about 150 to 52 on balls,” FHS coach Sherrill Smith said. “The first half was a total domination at the first touch. We were getting to the first touch and I was very pleased with that, but I wasn’t pleased with our second and third touches.
“We weren’t doing anything with it. We were wasting a lot of opportunities and the score indicated it. So we have to do a better job of controlling the middle and making decisions that give us advantageous opportunities.”
Bailey Spade took control of an opportunity for the Panthers with 28:10 on the clock in the first half. The junior halfback had a free kick from the corner that was tapped by Owen County’s senior goalie Tucker Cull before Spade hit the ball into the goal.
“We were all really excited for the first game and came out pretty hard,” Spade said. “We were pressuring them the whole time. It worked out for us and I slipped one in to get us started.”
With a 1-0 advantage, the Panthers had a costly mistake when they were called for a handball inside their goalkeeper’s box. The error gave Owen County’s senior midfielder Nash Croley a direct free kick, which he sank into the back of the net with 20:23 left in the first half.
The Panthers (1-0) answered minutes later when Spade threw the ball in from the corner to sophomore Keenan Thurman who headed the ball into the goal.
Spade contributed once more before the end of the first half when freshman Brady Taylor connected with Spade for the 3-1 advantage for the Panthers.
In the second half, Owen County wasted no time getting in the action as junior Carlos Perez hit a ball to the back of the net with 32:06 on the clock.
Separated by one goal, FHS sophomore Jordan Perry hit a free kick, which Spade headed in for the 4-2 lead with 25:05 to play.
“Bailey actually did a wonderful job,” Smith said. “I thought Bailey controlled the tempo of the game and was very calm. I think he was on the entire game and realized what he had. He was on the receiving end of three beautiful balls. That one assist from Jordan was beautiful.”
Three minutes later, FHS junior Travis Skelton scored a goal on his right foot into the side netting with an assist from Spade. With the Panthers in the lead 5-2, sophomore Marcus Bartholomew scored on a penalty kick with six minutes left.
The Rebels (0-1) traded out Cull, their starting goalkeeper, for freshman Logan Dunavent with four minutes left to play. Junior Church Gray played the entire game in the goal for the Panthers, holding Owen County to two scores.
Frankfort will play Franklin County, the loser of Tuesday’s late game, at 8 p.m. Thursday. Owen County meets Western Hills, the winner of Tuesday’s late game, at 6 p.m. Thursday. Western Hills won 2-1 over FCHS.
The tournament concludes Saturday with the losers of Tuesday’s games squaring off at 6 p.m., followed by the winners of Tuesday’s games meeting at 8.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Spade said. “If we come out like we did tonight, we’ll play well Thursday and hopefully have a shot at the championship Saturday.”