Oak Grove uses first-half outburst to down William Chrisman

Bill Althaus
The Examiner
Oak Grove's Annika Holtorf (19) eludes the pressure from William Chrisman defenders Emma Gervy (24) and Samantha Bauman (15) for the ball in Thursday's game at Chrisman. Holtorf scored two goals to help the Panthers to a 7-0 win.

Zach Herzig is not just one of the most promising young soccer coaches in Eastern Jackson County. He's also a bit of a psychic.

As his Oak Grove girls rolled to a 7-0 victory over the host William Chrisman Bears on a wet and cold Thursday night at Chrisman Stadium, he called out to Jordan Hall as teammate Annika Holtorf was about to complete a corner kick.

"I yelled out to Jordan, 'Have fun! This one's for you!'” Herzig said.

Holtorf's corner kick was perfect, as Hall headed the ball past Bears goalkeeper Abigail Ferguson in the 52nd minute for the final goal.

"I just felt like something good was going to happen," Herzig said after his team improved to 6-2 over a young, gritty Bears team that was missing two starters with concussions and three with leg injuries, although coach Justin Schmidt never mentioned that as an excuse.

Oak Grove's Meredith Forthofer, left, and Jordan Hall slap hands after scoring a goal in Thursday's game at William Chrisman. The Panthers went on to a 7-0 win.

"I hope you could tell by watching our girls how close they are as a team,” Herzig added. “They really enjoy playing together and I think that missing last year (because of the COVID-19 pandemic) made them even appreciate this year more. I'm happy with our success and this was a good win over a good Bears team that is missing some players. When he gets all his kids back, they're going to be tough to handle."

Ferguson made some outstanding saves as she faced a variety of Panther shots throughout the game. One of the best came in the fifth minute when she batted a point-blank shot a few feet in front of the net.

"I'm proud of Abby. She played a great game in goal, despite the score," Schmidt said. "Zach has a good thing going at Oak Grove. His team is really strong and they're young. I was impressed by the way they played, and I was impressed the way our kids hung in there. They were playing as hard in the last few minutes as they were in the first few minutes."

William Chrisman goalkeeper Abigail Ferguson, right, stops a shot as Oak Grove's Annika Holtorf (19) for the first goal of Thursday's game. Holtorf scored two goals to help the Panthers to a 7-0 win.

Had the Panthers scored one more goal, it would have been an 8-0 mercy rule victory.

Oak Grove's Meredith Forthofer scored the first goal in the third minute. It was the first of five first-half goals.

"I thought it really gave us a lot of momentum scoring the first goal,” Forthofer said. “We got some confidence and had a great first half."

Peyton Coffman scored in the 20th minute and Mackenzie Banley added another goal just two minutes later.

Forthofer notched her second goal in the 29th minute and Holtorf made it 5-0 with just 20 seconds left in the first half with the first of her two goals.

Holtorf also scored the first goal of the second half.

"It was just a great team win," Holtorf said. "We played great defense and we scored a lot of goals. We were really working together as a team, and that makes wins like this even more fun."

The Bears dropped to 2-6, but Schmidt sees better things in the future.

"We never give up, we're young and a lot of kids who were brought up from the junior varsity team are getting a lot of valuable experience," Schmidt said.

Destiny Valentine recorded the shutout in goal for the Panthers.

William Chrisman goalkeeper Abigail Ferguson, left, can't stop a shot by Oak Grove's Meredith Forthofer for the first goal of Thursday's game. Forthofer scored two goals to help the Panthers to a 7-0 win.