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The rain came down in droves Saturday night in the second half as the Elizabethtown Panthers hosted the North Hardin Trojans for the first time at the new Elizabethtown High Athletic Complex. But the Trojans’ reign over the Panthers wasn’t close to coming down.
Behind the first career hat trick from fabulous freshman Simeon Packer, the Trojans rolled to a 6-0 victory in less than 47 minutes as a storm forced officials to call the game with 33:51 left in the second half.
“I don’t know what to say, I’m not really that good in front of the camera,” Packer said sheepishly after taking the team lead with seven goals in seven games.
Packer was quite good with the ball in front of him Saturday night.
He made it 2-0 with 23:16 left in the first half on an unassisted goal and gave the Trojans’ a 5-0 lead with 8:16 to play before halftime when he drilled his penalty kick into the left corner after drawing the foul to set up the kick. He finished off his hat trick less than a minute into the second half when he settled a through ball and dribbled around a defender before knocking the ball into an open net.
“Simeon, just watching him with the way he was faking people out and with his speed, this is just the tip of the iceberg for him,” said veteran North Hardin coach Jim Stone. “He’s going to be a special player.”
The Trojans (3-4, 2-2 district) were already having a special night before Packer got on a roll as senior Chris Wood Jr. scored in the first 6 minutes. Fellow senior Taylor Yates was initially credited with the goal after trailing the play, but Yates didn’t touch the ball until after it crossed the goal line.
North Hardin made it 3-0 in the 23rd minute as freshman reserve J.P. Stevens scored his first career goal on a well-struck ball from more than 25 yards out. Yates passed off to junior Geoff Nelson less than 8 minutes later on a 2-on-1 break to make to 4-0.
Packer said the team wasn’t surprised to be up that big at the half.
“That was the plan,” he said. “We wanted to mercy rule them.”
North Hardin outshot Elizabethtown 18-10 overall and 9-2 on frame.
“I just think we came to play. The speed of play was what we wanted. We like this kind of field and that’s why we went to Bermuda on our field,” Stone said of his team’s first appearance on turf this season. “I thought everybody played well and we worked the ball well.”
Packer said the Trojans worked well to adjust to the speed of the turf.
“The ball definitely moves faster, so we had to pick up our work rate,” he said. “I guess it helps us because our attackers are faster than most players.”
North Hardin sophomore goalkeeper Josh Sheroan saved a hard low shot from Elizabethtown sophomore Nick Coffman in the first half, while Trojans junior keeper Andrew Rendon came up with a kick save – against a 3-on-none breakaway after a defensive miscue – to keep the shutout intact.
“Josh made a super save in the first half and Rendon made a great save in the last few minutes before they called it,” Stone said. “So our keepers came up big – twice.”
It was the Trojans’ fourth straight win against Elizabethtown (2-4-1, 1-1), with North Hardin scoring at least three goals and winning by multiple goals in all four of those meetings. Since last beating North Hardin 2-1 in a shootout in the 2010 district tournament semifinals, Elizabethtown has been outscored 19-3 by the Trojans.
UP NEXT: North Hardin plays at Meade County at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Elizabethtown plays at Fort Knox at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at 270-505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.