Two late scores from Florence end Panthers’ season

By Gene Phelps
Daily Journal
FLORENCE – Amory’s goal in the 59th minute was a wake-up call … for the wrong team.
Florence, down 1-0, responded with two late goals on its way to a 2-1 victory against the Panthers in the MHSAA Class 4A boys state soccer quarterfinals.
“(Florence) came alive once we scored,” Amory coach Nathan Clayton said. “Our guys gave it everything they had.”
The Eagles (9-10-4) will host Pontotoc in the state semifinals on Tuesday. The Florence girls are also set to host a semifinal that day.
Garrett Trautman, on an assist from Joseph Summers, gave the Panthers (12-8-1) their 1-0 lead with his goal in heavy traffic.
“It was a set piece,” Clayton said of the scoring play. “(Trautman) has had several like that this year.”
Florence answered in the 60th minute on a blast to the right corner of the net by Dalton Smith.
The Eagles’ took the lead 2-1 in the 72nd minute on a goal by Tripp Sheppard, who nailed a shot – off a deflection – just past the reach of diving Amory keeper Ross Trautman.
“It’s all instinct on a play like that,” Trautman said. “Deflections have gotten us all year. There’s nothing more we could have done.”
Florence, behind its aggressive offensive attack, took nine shots on goal in the first half. The last one, a crossing rocket by midfielder Jamie Hicks, just missed in the final seconds.
Amory had three shots on Florence keeper Austin Firth in the first half.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Clayton said. “We knew Florence was going to put pressure on us early.”
Florence defeated the Panthers in the first round last season and beat them in the state title game in 2011.
“We made it a game this year,” Trautman said. “We knew they were quick and physical. We were ready.”