When Bobby Nichols was hired last year as the new girls soccer coach at Oregon High School, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
But after missing an entire season due to COVID-19 and getting back on the field with his team this spring, there’s no secret what the Panthers are expecting – a trip to the state tournament.
They showed their power again on Thursday, June 3, claiming the Badger South Conference championship with a 10-0 win over visiting Milton.
The effort was followed with a regional semifinal playoff win on Tuesday, June 8, a 15-0 win over Whitewater which took just one half.
“We have a lot of great players, girls that are determined and dedicated and they play year-round with club soccer. So it makes it very easy for us. They’re very motivated,” Nichols said of his team after Thursday’s win.
Oregon finished its conference schedule with a perfect 7-0 record, scoring 69 goals and allowing zero goals against conference opponents this season.
The team’s offensive approach differs from the typical high school soccer team, Nichols said, because most teams put the ball in the air and hope for headers or send balls in the air to deflect in off of bodies or find a loose foot.
The Panthers attack the end line and instead try to play the ball on the ground. This allows for dangerous chances and shots on net or corner kicks if the defense misplays the ball.
The game plan worked to perfection on June 3, as the Panthers scored five goals in each half to breeze to victory, and the scoring was spread throughout the lineup.
“We’re really just building our offense one person after the next. We probably had five or six different goal scorers tonight, and that’s kind of the goal is to spread out the scoring so they (opponents) can’t just shut down one person,” Nichols said.
Panthers defeat Whippets with strong first half
The same attack was evident in the Panthers’ playoff game against Whitewater (1-8-1) in the first round of the WIAA playoffs on Tuesday, June 8, a game that saw the Panthers score twice in the game’s first minute and 10 times by the midway point of the first half.
The team won by a score of 15-0 by mercy rule at the end of the first half.
Nichols said his team will have to stay focused as the playoffs progress and knows what his team has its sights on.
“Their whole goal is to get to that next level (state),” he said, “So anything less than that, they’re gonna be disappointed.”