That’s why when the Panthers finally scored, their emotions uncorked. Knots of Panther players celebrated all over.
“I could not have asked for more,” Kokomo coach Kismet Morrison said. “We planned the game well, they stuck to the game plan, and they were phenomenal. Gosh, just one lapse, just one lapse.
“Before we came over, we were in the classroom, we spoke about what we wanted to do [for a game plan] and I’m so delighted we were actually able to do what we said we were going to do. Unfortunately, they got the goal. That was the difference between the two teams but it was a pleasing way to end the season.”
Central defenders Dunn and Robert Lambert in particular had standout games for the Kats. Kokomo played a high defensive line and dared Western to beat them on through balls but over and over Kokomo’s defense snuffed out breakaway chances.
Kokomo’s pushed in the final few minutes for an equalizer and had a good chance on a corner with 30 seconds left, but one Kat headed wide on the far post as a teammate charged in from behind with what would have been a clearer chance.
Western’s Sanchez had to make six saves in the first half — including two tough ones on efforts from Kokomo’s Keagan James — but had just one tame save to handle in the second half as the Panthers imposed their will. Root credited improved communication for Western getting better possession in the second half.
Kokomo’s Cook made four saves in each half.
“Second half ... I don’t think we passed the ball any better, I thought we made better decisions on through balls and over the top,” Roe said.
“I felt like [Kokomo] struggled in the second half due to our ability to win that middle third. You gotta have defense and you’ve gotta have offense but bottom line is games are won and lost in the middle third. I felt like that’s definitely where we stood out in the second half.”