North Lamar boys came into the Area Championship game against Wilmer-Hutchins with nine seniors ready to continue their season. While they enjoyed success under first-year head coach Aaron Welch with a mid-season eight-game win streak that included an upset victory over a sixth-ranked opponent, they also had some difficulties through a tough district schedule that included four matchups with top ten teams. The task would be daunting with District 9 champion W-H coming off a crushing Bi-District victory over Sunnyvale last week.
The match started poorly for North Lamar as Wilmer-Hutchins scored the first goal at just under two minutes. The team speed of Wilmer-Hutchins seemed to have caught the Panthers by surprise. The defense stepped up and kept the game scoreless for over 22 minutes, but then Wilmer-Hutchins extended their lead to 2-0 at the 16:04 mark. They would add another goal at the ten minute mark to take a 3-0 advantage over the Panthers into the half.
North Lamar came out of the half with a sense of renewed purpose. With the wind at their back, the offense lit up and pushed the ball hard into Wilmer-Hutchins territory. The Panthers were able to launch several shots on goal but were unable to convert. After keeping Wilmer-Hutchins scoreless for the first 22 minutes of the second half, the defense broke and gave up a goal. Trailing 4-0 with 17:19 left in the match, it appeared that finality had set in for the Panthers. They continued to push the ball but gave up three more goals before the match ended.
The 7-0 loss was a sour end to what was overall a successful season for the North Lamar Panthers. Seniors Hunter Love (2), Jessup Crutchfield (3), Victor Dorantes (9), Andrew Exum (10), Chance Kent (11), Zach Routon (12), Kris Stephens (16), Hunter Brasher (20) and Tanner Hevron (21) helped make what many thought would be a transitional year into one filled with memories, emotions and great play. Their play together is fun to watch and will be missed next year. Thank you Coach Welch, Coach Beall and team for all you did this year. It was a great ride!