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Packer defense keeps up its intensity in a loss to Panthers

The Austin girls soccer team may have lost their fifth straight game when they fell to Rochester Century 4-0 in Art Hass Stadium Tuesday night, but they never lost their hustle.

The Packers were trailing 2-0 halfway through the second half against the undefeated Panthers (5-0-2 overall, 5-0-2 Big Nine), but Austin’s Megan Schultz still found the energy to chase down a breakaway and defy a scoring opportunity. Schultz broke up another Century scoring chance near the goal with 14:25 left in the game as she was quick on her feet to boot a loose ball away.

While Century dominated possession, defensive efforts like Schultz’s helped keep the Panthers on the perimeter against keeper Mya Walters, who had 24 saves.

“We don’t like getting scored on and Mya’s a first year goalie on varsity,” Schultz said. “I want to make her first year a good one and I want to keep all of the girls in it. It’s important for the defense to stay in it so the midfield will stay in it. We want to keep up the energy and Emma (Dudycha) and I both like playing back there on defense.”

The Panthers scored 10 minutes into the game and they pushed the lead to 2-0 when they scored with 10:17 left in the first half. The score remained 2-0 for much of the night until the Panthers added two late goals.

“I think our defense has been a phenomenal force throughout the year. We need to string together aspects on our attack to relieve that pressure on the D, but I’m very pleased with every ounce of effort they put forward,” Austin head coach Jake Levisen said. “We’ve got to find feet and we’ve got to find movement. If we’re not moving it’s hard to find feet and vice versa. We’ve got to pick up our heads up a little bit more. Girls are making excellent runs and we’ve just got to connect more.”

After the MSHSL recently announced there will be a two-week section soccer tournament in October, the Packers (1-5 overall, 1-5 Big Nine) now have goals that go beyond the Big Nine race.

“In the beginning of the season we all wanted to play so we could end with a pretty record,” Schultz said. “But now we want to play so we can be the final team in sections.”