Rowe’s hat trick powers Indians past Panthers
Special to the Whig
— Despite the big game he had, North East’s Connor Rowe saw a drastic improvement by his teammates during their 3-2 non-divisional home win over Perryville on Tuesday.
“Our team just came together,” he said. “Our first two games, we were kind of playing individually, but [tonight] we played as a team, and our defense really helped put this together for us.”
Rowe scored all three of the Indians’ goals in a tug-of-war match that saw two ties and a combined five goals in the second half. North East’s defense worked double time, as the Panthers dominated possession and cut off the hosts’ passes all evening.
“I wanted to make sure they didn’t get a chance to make turns,” Indians head coach Mark Kalwa said. “Our defense did a good job staying on them and making sure their forwards didn’t turn.”
Perryville out-shot North East (1-1-1) 12-6 and held a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks, but it went 1-for-2 in penalty kicks, while Rowe’s hat trick accounted for half of the Indians’ shots on goal.
Rowe’s first goal came halfway through the first half. The Panther defense didn’t have to do much defending early on but suddenly found itself pinned deep in Indian territory. With Rowe in hot pursuit, a defender collided with goalkeeper Trevor Prevost while trying to clear the ball. Rowe punched the ball into the vacant net to make it 1-0.
The score stayed that way into the second half. Per-
ryville (1-3) tied the game in the 50th minute with junior Ilario Ercole’s goal from the right sideline. The Panthers missed a golden opportunity to take the lead a minute later when Kevin Makach’s penalty kick clanged off the top of the crossbar and out.
“A little break here or a little break there, and the game would’ve gone 180 the other way,” Perryville head coach Daniel Kiesl said. “They guys were very pumped and emotional going into the second half, and they fought hard until the end.”
North East took advantage of the break by taking the lead again with 18:30 left. Rowe drew Prevost out of the net a second time. Prevost dove to block Rowe’s attempt, but the ball scooted past him, allowing Rowe to recover and kick it into the empty net.
The Panthers got another penalty kick eight minutes later, and Jon Hamamcioglu didn’t miss it, knotting the game at 2-all.
Rowe got the lead right back for good with 4:48 left, this time sprinting a clear path to the net down the middle of the field ahead of his defender.
“I think it was off a goal kick and Adam (Butenewicz) had a header, just enough for me to get a hold of it and go,” Rowe said.
Kalwa echoed Rowe’s feelings about his team’s performance.
“One thing about this team, they’ve got so much heart,” he said. “We started with a loss and tie, but they came back in both games. They fight and fight and they took it to another level tonight. I always preach first five minutes, last five minutes, and they really played with a sense of urgency.”