Suwannee shut out in District 3-4A final


Published: Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Despite an early attack that dominated the first-half possession and several late scoring opportunities, Suwannee found itself unable to come back from an early deficit in a 2-0 loss to Ridgeview Friday night in the District 3-4A final.
The Bulldogs created several scoring opportunities, but costly turnovers and fouls against Suwannee coupled with some outstanding saves by Ridgeview keeper Brittany Wilkinson kept the game deadlocked until the 33rd minute, when Panthers striker Lianne Stricklen one-touched a teammate's cross pass, scoring the game's first goal.
Five minutes later, Stricklen again found the net, this time pulling in a loose ball about 25 yards out and firing between two Suwannee defenders to close the scoring two minutes before the half. The shot was Ridgeview's fifth on goal in the game,
The Bulldogs tried to answer, but their long-ball strategy didn't pay off, as the Suwannee forwards couldn't beat the Panther defenders to loose balls. Even when Suwannee did manage to beat the Ridgeview defense downfield, poor ball-handling and inconsistent passing ended most attacks before the ball found its way to Wilkinson. The Panthers goalie made three finger-tip saves in the first half, including two in the 39th minute to break up a frantic effort from the Bulldogs to get on the board before the half.
Ridgeview opened the second half hot, with an aggressive defense and some quick passing that set up three scoring threats in the half's first five minutes. The Panthers couldn't extend their lead, but it didn't matter because the Bulldog offense came out seemingly fatigued and unable to keep up with Ridgeview. Every time Suwannee stopped a Panthers attack, clearing the ball up for the forwards, the Bulldog front line was either outrun or overpowered in pursuit of the ensuing loose ball.
In the closing minutes, Suwannee managed a prolonged attack after moving its midfielders up, but couldn't find the goal thanks in large part to more of Wilkinson's dramatics. The keeper made a diving save on a Suwannee shot from just outside the box with two minutes to play, then jumped to her feet and made another outstretched stop when the Bulldogs tried to put the rebound in, preserving the shutout and a third consecutive district championship for the Panthers.

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