Soccer Panthers fall short

By Stephen Glover

At the beginning of the 2003 season, Scott Jackson, head coach of the Mehlville Senior High School boys’ soccer team, had his concerns about the strength of the squad’s defense.

“Our biggest question mark at the beginning of the season was our team defense,” Jackson told the Call. “We feel now that people have to earn goals against us.”

The statistics don’t lie when it comes to Mehlville’s defense this season.

In fact, the Panthers have recorded seven shutouts this season and are holding their opponents to just 1.083 goals per game this year.

Mehlville (8-3, 1-1 Suburban West) participated in the Catholic Youth Council Bob Guelker Memorial Tournament last week and started off on a hot note on Monday with a 7-0 bombing of Belleville West.

The Panthers had five players score goals with Ryan Burke and Jon Klein notching two goals each. Burke currently leads the team with nine goals and four assists this season.

“In the last four or five games, Ryan has taken over a leadership role on the field,” Jackson said. “I think he’s finally realized that this is it, it’s his last season.”

Klein has also been a key performer on the Panthers attack this year with six goals, three of which were game winning goals.

“Jon’s a tough kid,” Jackson said. “He’s just one of those kids that gets in there and really fights for the ball.”

Also scoring for Mehlville was Denalidn Hamzagic, Joel Sellmeyer who each had a goal and an assist. Hamzagic leads the Pan-thers in assists (5) this season and also has seven goals.

Sellmeyer only may have seen limited action this season, but when he’s on the field, he’s definitely a scoring threat with two goals and two assists this year.

Sophomore forward Bryan Enger scored a goal against Belleville West in which the expectations for his role on the team keep getting high and higher with his solid performance on the field.

Mehlville came back on Tuesday evening and suffered a 1-0 setback against a tough Columbia Rockbridge outfit. According to Jackson, the Panther’s had several opportunities to score, but just couldn’t find a way to get the ball into the net.

“We had probably two to three times more opportunities to score,” Jackson said. “We left everything on the field that night. We really took a lot of positives our of that game.”

The loss to Columbia-Rockbridge carried over the following evening as the Panthers stumbled against Rockwood Su-mit in a 2-0 loss. Despite the loss, there was a more disappointing fact.

“Had we won that game, we would have advanced,” Jackson said. “We were in the driver’s seat for a wild card spot.”

Mehlville returns to action at 5 p.m this Thursday as it plays host to Mary Institute-Country Day.