Robbins scores four times to keep Panthers unbeaten

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Johnston forward Bianca Robbins scored four times while leading the Lady Panthers past the Tolman Tigers, 6-1, on Monday afternoon. Gabriella Scarcella contributed a goal and an assist and Grace Muller added two assists.

Though Johnston won the game with ease, Johnston head coach Tim Sprouls didn’t believe it was his team’s best effort.

“It wasn’t our best game,” Sprouls said. “Not by a long shot. The grass slows us down because we play on turf, we’re accustomed to that. That’s what we practice on; we play our home games on.”

“And I think we kind of took the opposition a little lightly,” Sprouls continued. “I think they got a little bit complacent in the second half and allowed that team to get the ball a little closer. We got the win, that’s what we were supposed to do and we move on from here.”

Johnston freshman goalkeeper Haley Gaunt had five saves in net, while Tolman junior Nicole Carmen had 19 stops.

The Panthers had a few opportunities early in the contest, but couldn’t cash in. One of which came when Robbins put a shot off the left crossbar, and another time the junior standout beat the goalkeeper, but at the last second, Tolman freshman defenseman Abigail O’Connell came out of nowhere and blocked the shot.

Nonetheless, midway through the first half, Robbins came through, scoring in front after a pass from Madison Plouffe, putting Johnston up, 1-0.  

Not long after, Muller assisted to Shelee Lastor, who sniped one in from deep and put the Panthers up 2-0. 

A minute after that, Muller passed to Scarcella, who launched one in from afar to give Johnston a 3-0 cushion.

Johnston continued its onslaught and struck again when Scarcella passed to Robbins, who dribbled down past defenders and put it past Carmen to extend the Panthers’ lead to 4-0.

At the beginning of the second half, Tolman’s Esperanza Guevara drove into the Johnston zone looking to score, but Panthers’ defenseman Delaney LaRose had other ideas and booted the ball away.

Down the other end, Gabriella Sauro passed to Robbins, who went on a fast break and juked past the defense and the keeper and blasted it into the back of the net, increasing the Panthers’ lead to 5-0.

A minute after that, Scarcella fed Robbins another time, and again the junior came through, booting it past Carmen while upping the Panthers’ advantage to 6-0 with 30:02 to play.

Tolman’s lone goal came a little while later when, during a corner kick, Emily Rossi lofted a pass in front to Melissa Esteban, who buried it, making it 6-1.

Johnston improved to 5-0 in Division III and 7-0 overall. The Panthers and three other teams are undefeated in the division. Johnston will meet those three teams next month.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Sprouls said. “It’s not going to happen for this week or next week, but in October we’re going to have three out of four games that are going to be very tough. That’s going to decide everything.”

Sprouls credits the center backs for the team’s success.

“Kaylee Lameiro and Delaney LaRose have been outstanding all year long on the center of the defense,” Sprouls said. “They’ve really meant a lot to us and we couldn’t do it without them.”

The coach thinks that he has something special in Gaunt, his freshman goalkeeper, and hopes that she can help lead the Panthers to a title later this season.

“She’s probably the best goalkeeper I’ve seen here in Johnston in the last 15 years,” Sprouls said. “She trains with club soccer teams as a keeper and she’s very good. I think that may distinguish us from the rest of the league. Other teams have quality players too, but with Haley back there backing up everybody, I’m hoping that that’s going to be the difference.”

Robbins’ four tallies in the game give her a career total of 110 goals, which is just four shy of breaking the Johnston girls’ soccer record, which is set at 113. 

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