North Lamar carried an eight-game winning streak into Thursday night’s matchup against the Bonham Purple Warriors. Fresh off a district opening win over seventh-ranked Princeton, the Panthers were looking to get to a 2-0 start in district play, but Bonham had a different plan. This match was finally played after two consecutive days of weather-related cancellations. The temperature at opening kickoff was a frigid 28 degrees with a wind chill of 22.
The match featured strong defensive play from both squads throughout. Bonham stacked their defense to give them numbers against any advancement, a strategy that had worked pretty well last week against a potent Paris offense. North Lamar defensive play was strong as well, so the majority of the match was ball movement in the middle two-thirds of the field.
Bonham opened up the scoring with a goal about 20 minutes into the first half, taking a 1-0 lead. The Panthers pressed the ball, finally scoring to tie the match. With just over 7 minutes left in the half, Korbin Peralta put the ball in goal making it 1-1, which remained the score at halftime.
The dropping temperatures seemed to have an effect on the match as both teams were frozen out of the goal through the entire second half. The game ended with the teams tied at 1-1, which only intensified the drama as the overtime penalty shootout was set to determine who would win. The one thing worse than a penalty kick for a goalie is an overtime shootout. It is a one on one matchup between the goalkeeper and the opponents five best shooters. Each team alternates turns accumulating goals scored. If the score is still tied after this, the shootout matchup continues with additional shots for each team until one team has the advantage at the end of a round.
Fans on both sides could sense the drama and pressure as they rose to their feet and shouted encouragement to the players. Unfortunately, North Lamar only converted one of the first three kicks and, with a two goal differential, had to make to make both of their final two kicks while stopping Bonham’s final two in order for the match to continue. With a stop on the Panthers’ fourth attempt, Bonham sealed the victory and improved their record in district to 1-1.
The loss ended North Lamar’s eight-game win streak and brings their district record to 1-1. While Coach Welch was obviously disappointed with his team’s effort, he spoke of regrouping and a focus on raising the intensity level of play. As they head into a matchup with crosstown rival Paris (2-0) on Saturday, the Panthers will need all of the intensity they can muster. Kickoff is set for 3:00pm, weather permitting.