Red, white and blue Herring is difference for Lancers
Stars and Stripes April 8, 2023
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Annabelle Herring didn’t suit up for Stuttgart during her two years there.
It wasn’t anybody’s fault, as COVID-19 washed away both seasons. Once DODEA soccer returned, however, Herring had transferred to Lakenheath.
Stuttgart got a taste of what she could have done for the Panthers on Friday evening at Kaiserslautern High School. Herring curled in a goal in the 74th minute to give the Lancers a 2-1 comeback victory.
“It was an especially important goal for me because I played for Stuttgart my freshman and sophomore years,” Herring said. “Although I would have liked to play with this team, it was special to me that I could play against them.”
The win was special for more than just Herring, though.
The Lancers (2-0, 2-0) dropped their only matchup with Stuttgart (1-1, 1-1) last season during the European championships – a loss that sat at the back of their minds.
“It was a great victory for them,” Lakenheath assistant coach Carol Vargas said. “For them to come back strong and win as a team, it was very positive.”
The Panthers took the lead in the sixth minute when Gracie Self’s through ball put Kendall Boudreaux behind the defense on the left wing. Boudreaux cut inside and put the ball into the net.
The Lancers didn’t record a shot on goal until the 52nd minute, but that one proved to be fruitful. Following a Stuttgart goal kick, the ball was headed back toward the Panthers’ net when Heidi Amberson got on the ball. The senior striker made it count by putting the ball past Madelyne Metcalf.
“That first goal was definitely the step our team needed in order to click and to connect and to move the ball in a clen and concise manner,” Herring said. “We weren’t just kicking it forward, hoping somebody would tap it in.”
Herring then capped off the comeback, once again in transition. After turning over the ball in midfield, the senior picked up the ball in the middle of the offensive third, dribbled around a defender or two and unleased a low shot that squeaked inside the right post.
“In the moment, I didn’t have anything going through my mind,” Herring said. “I just kept tapping around the defenders. I received an incredible pass from one of my teammates, and I just took the shot.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, rued not capitalizing on chances in the first half and early in the second. Boudreaux herself launched a shot in the 47th minute that sliced just wide of the left post in what was Stuttgart’s best chance in the final 40 minutes.
Coach Robert Loyd said the team is taking the loss in stride.
“I have no doubt that we can win it all,” Loyd said. “It’s a setback, it’s a learning experience, but it happened early in the season.”
First-year Stuttgart coach Nathan Garrett is using a next-man-up mentality, especially after last season’s Division I European runner-up squad lost numerous players to graduation.
In Friday’s 2-0 win over Lakenheath at Kaiserslautern High School, the Panthers showed that quality with a key player missing and another injured. Two JV players in freshmen Christian Ingle and Micah Gonzalez stepped up and scored both goals.
“I felt they had worked hard on the JV side, and I was like, I wanted to give them a shot and play this weekend with one of our key players out and another guy injured,” Garrett said. “I was very happy and very impressed with their performance and overall that team mentality.”
Controlling possession and enjoying a big advantage in corners (8-1), the Panthers (2-0, 2-0) had to wait until the 48th minute to break the deadlock.
The Lancers (0-1-1, 0-1-1) couldn’t clear a corner completely, and after a cross into the box, the ball ended up near the edge of the box. There, Ingle ripped a shot that flew into the back of the net.
“Any shot that my guys take, I never get mad at them,” Garrett said. “I always say, the shot you don’t take is the one you’re going to miss. So, the fact that he (Ingle) just ripped it, I was happy.”
Then, in the 74th minute, Ryan Stevenson connected with Gonzalez, who made a defender miss and slotted a shot home to clinch the victory.
In the loss, the Lancers struggled to keep possession, and coach Grant Severts placed blame on his team not putting enough pressure in central midfield without the ball.
Still, Lakenheath had a chance in the 64th minute to tie the match, as Stuttgart goalkeeper James McNally mishandled a pass back to goal. Freshman Lancer striker Jonas Ballesteros-Burkett tried to control the ball for a shot on a wide-open net, but it rolled too far.
“There’s a spirit about the team that I have not seen in other teams that I’ve coached before,” Severts said. “There’s a certain trust and cohesiveness that we see. Maybe we’re not having the possession we want, but there’s a belief that we can do it.”