The deciding goal of Van Horn’s 3-2 non-conference loss Thursday to visiting Oak Grove could be a learning experience for Falcons freshman goalkeeper Desiree Norfleet, Van Horn girls soccer coach Matt Tracy said.

With the score 2-2 in the 78th minute, Norfleet came off her line to challenge Sarah Sperry on a breakaway opportunity. Norfleet “came out too fast” on defense, Tracy said. Sperry got the ball past her, and it went into an open net for Oak Grove’s game-winner.

“We’ve just got to train her,” Tracy said. “I don’t fault her at all. She’s a freshman – never played keep.”

Freshman forward/midfielder Karli Schnakenberg, who scored one of Van Horn’s goals, didn’t fault Norfleet either.

“She had a lot of saves tonight,” Schnakenberg said of Norfleet, who made seven saves. “And without her, that wouldn’t have even been a game. She got a hand on it, did as much as she could. It has to go through 10 other players before it gets to her anyway.”

Sperry attributed finishing the breakaway showdown with Norfleet in part to good coaching.

“I figured I've just got to do what coach says and bring the goalie out and pass it around her,” she said. “And just an easy pass into the corner – nothing special.”

Panthers coach Michael Brown said the play showed good work from both players.

“The goalie did well,” Brown said. “She got a little touch on it. But I think Sarah placed it well enough that she didn’t really have a chance. Took a slow roll in, but went across the line – and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.”

Van Horn (5-6) answered two Oak Grove goals to set up the showdown. Carlee Doss’ goal in the seventh minute gave the Panthers (8-5) the opening lead, but the Falcons tied it in the 15th minute. Sperry’s goal in the 22nd minute helped Oak Grove take a 2-1 halftime lead.

“We were pretty fortunate to go into halftime up 2-1,” Brown said.

Schnakenberg provided Van Horn’s second equalizer in the 66th minute.

“It was kind of blooped through and I took a touch outside to my right. I saw a split between the two defenders – and so, I just went for it because I knew that we really were needing it,” she said.

Then came the Sperry-Norfleet showdown – a showdown between a senior attacker and a freshman goalie.

“She’s a young keeper,” Tracy said. “She’s got a lot of heart. We’re working with the training.”