The wind was howling at East Lake Park on Thursday night, and the Panthers used that to their advantage with a dominant second half.
After trailing 2-1 at halftime, the Mt. Pleasant boys tilted the field on Central Lee in the second half, scoring three goals in the final 25 minutes to steal back the win.
After almost 35 minutes of scoreless play started the game off, Nathan Rauenbuehler broke the 0-0 tie with the first goal of the game. Rauenbuehler capitalized on a scramble in front of the net, popping it past the keeper to give Mt. Pleasant a 1-0 lead.
Central Lee struck back almost immediately. The Hawks scored on a ball from Jake Lamartine that was deflected by a defender and flew just over the fingertips of Panther keeper Logan Lee to tie the game up. Then, with under a minute left, Mason Schau sent a corner kick off a Mt. Pleasant defender to make it 2-1 Central Lee before the break.
“We did a great job in the first half of shutting down their attack, going with the wind. Just a couple of silly mistakes,” Panther head coach Neil Schmitz said about the first half. “It was a similar thing in the Ft. Madison game where we gave up a couple goals that we shouldn’t have.”
The game stayed 2-1 until the Panthers tied it up off the foot of Cade Warner. Warner scored with 24:24 remaining on the clock to make it 2-2 and give the Panthers a lot of momentum for the final stretch.
With just under 19 minutes to go, Jaydn Vongsavath found himself scrambling around with Central Lee keeper Blake Moeller. Moeller shoved Vongsavath to the ground while trying to get to the ball, earning him a penalty and giving the Panthers a penalty kick opportunity.
Vongsavath lined up for the penalty kick with 18:34 left in the game. He scored despite backup keeper Evan Pohren getting a hand on the ball, and it was 3-2 Mt. Pleasant.
Mt. Pleasant added one more goal before it was all done. Ovidio Reyes-Cardona sneaked a shot inside the left post with 10:47 left to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead.
After the game, coach Schmitz praised his team for coming back, especially the defense, which held Central Lee at bay for the entire second half.
“Very proud of the team,” Schmitz said. “Everybody did a great job. Defensively, Hunter Stearns, second game on varsity and he’s been playing very well. That whole back row; Noel Lopez, Avery Scandridge and Ethan Oilar, is just a solid defense back there. And then with Logan White back there, we were able to shut them out on the second half.”
Mt. Pleasant moved to 7-2 overall with the win. They’ll look to improve on their 2-1 conference mark with a Southeast Conference showdown against Washington on Monday, April 22.