On the first spring-like night of the soccer season, the North Lamar boys faced off with Paris for the second time in district play. North Lamar was coming off a three-game losing streak that saw sloppy play and playing conditions. Paris entered the match ranked ninth in state 4A but coming off their first loss in almost two months and needing a win to secure the district title outright. As the match approached kickoff, the largest crowd of the season gathered in the stands to cheer their soccer heroes in the Crosstown Showdown, Part two.
From the opening kickoff both teams pursued the ball with an aggressive sense of urgency demonstrating the strong desire to win. North Lamar was able to push the ball strong in the first half with the majority of time spent on the Paris side of the field. Though they were able to make multiple shots on goal, strong play by Paris goalie Jeff White kept the Panthers off the board.
Paris had plenty of opportunities as well, but solid play by goalie Nick West and the Panthers’ defense helped keep the match scoreless for 35 minutes of play. Aided by a no-call on an obvious hand ball deep in Panther territory, Paris placed the ball in goal with 4:38 left to play taking a 1-0 lead that would hold up until half.
North Lamar entered the half discouraged but not defeated and came out with an increased level of urgency....unfortunately, so did the Wildcats. After multiple back and forth possessions, Paris was able to push the ball deep into Panther territory and scored with 28:10 left in the match. Down 2-0, North Lamar continued to fight but the vaunted Paris defense that had only given up three goals in over six weeks of play held strong.
With less than ten minutes left in the match, North Lamar pushed the ball strong into Paris territory. Hunter Brasher launched a rocket shot on goal from about 25 yards out that rebounded off the crossbar and straight to Chance Kent. Kent instinctively took a header shot that went in goal, finally putting the Panthers on the board. With the energized home crowd cheering loudly, the Panthers pursued the ball with intensity, moving into scoring position several times, However, the Paris defense tightened up and as the clock counted down under two minutes, the Wildcats were able to take possession of the ball and prevent any more Panther scoring opportunities.
Coach Aaron Welch stated, “We had plenty of scoring opportunities but just didn’t finish. The boys battle for 80 minutes. I’m really proud of their fight.”
The loss moves the Panthers to a 1-4 district record, while Paris won the district title with a record of 5-1. North Lamar will face Bonham in their final district match on March 23rd at R.L. Maddox stadium. Bonham (1-3) will face eighth-ranked Princeton (3-2) next week. A victory over Bonham will secure 3rd place in district for the Panthers.