Sterlington 5, Minden 2
Five different Panthers deposited the ball into the net as Sterlington prevailed over the Minden Crimson Tide 5-2 on Tuesday night.
Jacob Dupree, Landon Green, Cooper Grunsky, Oren Keller and Cooper Reese scored a goal apiece as the Panthers won their third straight. Grunsky, a freshman, has a team-high four goals.
"Cooper Grunsky has stepped up big time in the middle for our offense," Sterlington coach Kyle Keyes said.
On the defensive end, Trey Herring and Cooper Reese have emerged as mainstays.
"Trey and Cooper Reese have been killing it for us," Keyes said. "Cooper has been playing a sweeper role for us."
Mathew Husser and Ty Dycus have split time in net for the Panthers (3-1).
Since dropping a 5-0 decision to Ouachita in the season opener, the Panthers have outscored their foes 12-4 during the current winning streak.
Keyes simplified the offense after the Ouachita game.
"That's where I had to step up as a coach and figure out what we were doing right, and what we were doing wrong," Keyes said. "The system we were running was pretty complex. It's more for guys who are well-seasoned. We still have some guys who are second-year players.
"Starting off against Ouachita, some of those guys were a little shell-shocked. It was their first real experience in a varsity game, and on top of that, they were trying to learn a new system."
Regrouping from the season-opening setback, the Panthers blanked Vidalia 3-0 and doubled West Ouachita 4-2.
"They are grasping things each day in practice," Keyes said. "We are going to win some ballgames this year. Obviously, we have bounced back after the 5-0 loss."
Blake Stevens, Keller and Grunsky scored against Vidalia in the district opener.
Against West Ouachita, the Panthers received two goals from Grunsky and one each from Duke Villareal and Connor White.
Sterlington competed as an independent last season. In their first year as a sanctioned program, the Panthers are now eligible for postseason play.
"The lineup we have now has four juniors, and the rest are underclassmen," Keyes said. "We are winning ballgames with a young team, which will help us next season as well."
Coming off of a four-game homestand, the Panthers now face a tough four-game road stretch, which includes stops at West Monroe on Thursday, Tioga on Saturday, West Ouachita on Tuesday, Dec. 5, and Neville on Thursday, Dec. 7.
"During the early part of the summer, we came to an agreement that if we want to be one of the big dogs, we have to play the big dogs," Keyes said. "If you get beat, at least you are brave enough to play the big dogs. We'll play anybody, any time, and we're not going to go down without a fight."
Thursday's game against West Monroe will be a measuring stick game for the Panthers.
"West Monroe is going to be a big challenge for us," Keyes said. "We've started doing some things differently. We're going to go with what has been working for us, and try to pull off the upset win Thursday night."