Norfolk’s Jacob Hjorth scored the winning goal two minutes into the first overtime to break a 1-1 tie and the Panthers held on to down the North Platte Bulldogs 2-1 for their fourth win of the season against eight losses. The Bulldogs dropped to 1-11 on senior day and will travel to Scottsbluff on Friday as they close out the regular season.
“It was a very even game — a really competitive game,” said Norfolk’s head coach Kyle Mather. “Actually it was kind of fun to just watch.
“For us, this is our sixth overtime game and our first overtime win.
“We finally got the monkey off our back as far as that goes.”
After a scoreless first half, the Bulldogs drew first blood in the 52nd minute when Brady Mason scored on an assist from Brandon Hedgecock.
“It gives the guys a pick-me-up and they get in their attacking mode,” said North Platte coach Mary Elmshauser of the Bulldogs first goal. “They do play numbers up because they want that second goal.
“We just need to make sure they transition back and everybody needs to take their shape and holding that goal.”
The Bulldogs took 12 shots on goal for the game, six in each half. North Platte also had five corner kicks in the game, a number Elmshauser was happy with.
“Offensive minded, the boys did a nice job distributing the ball, holding possession,” Elmshauser said. “We had lots of crosses, lots of opportunities.”
The Panthers tied the game at 1-all late in the second half when Michael Granados got loose on the left side and put the ball just past the diving Austin Settles into the back right corner of the net.
“The second half there was one error,” said Elmshauser. “It’s tough once we get down like that and have to go into overtime with already fatigued players.
“We don’t sub our back line too much so we get a little weak and don’t make the best touch on that first ball that comes back to us.”
North Platte had control of the ball for much of the first half as the wind was at their back. Norfolk struggled to get the ball into scoring position.
“We’re lethargic sometimes until we kind of get punched in the mouth and we finally wake up and maybe start to play,” Mather said.
“I wish we would start the game a little bit quicker than what we did.
“I told the kids North Platte always plays tough — you can count on a tough game when you come here. You have to be ready to play. We weren’t to start the game and they took it to us for a while.”
North Platte distributed the ball well in the first half, getting the ball deep into Panthers territory.
“Every game I see improvement in their game and with their passing — trusting each other and getting the ball out wide,” Elmshauser said.
“There were a few times we made some mistakes and put it up the middle, but for the first half really played a solid game.
“They’re being more attacking minded because the shots on goal are really spread out.
“In practice we say if you get close to the 20, you make an attempt.”