Coming off a pair of a season opening victories, Coach Duanna Ewell led the JV and Varsity squads into competition in the Greenville tournament this weekend. In a tournament based on points, every goal, tie and victory was crucial to making the finals round. Each team played three games in the preliminary round on Thursday and Friday.
The JV girls opened action against Lovejoy on Thursday morning. After falling behind early, they went to half trailing 2-0. In the second half, Sadi English (4) put the ball in the net with the assist from Jamielynn Parker (22). In spite of 18 saves by goalie Michelle Chavez (5), Lovejoy added another goal to take a 3-1 win.
NL varsity took to the pitch next to face Quinlan Ford. The Pantherettes had numerous opportunities with 15 shots on goal but could not penetrate the QF defense. QF took the lead at the 12:35 mark in the first half to take 1-0 lead into half that would hold up as the final score.
Late in the afternoon the JV faced Lancaster in their second match of the tournament. The Pantherettes outshot Lancaster 19-1 but neither team was able to score resulting in a 0-0 tie.
That same evening, the varsity squad faced off against Ferris, which is the same team that NL defeated last year in the Area Championship. Playing to a scoreless tie in the first half, Ferris drew first blood scoring early in the second half to take a 1-0 lead. Just under 7 minutes later, Daisy Rangel (6) scored with the assist from Megan Baker (8) to tie the match. The Pantherettes outshout Ferris 13-6 but were unable to score again, ending the match in a 1-1 tie to close out the first day of tournament play.
On Friday, the varsity girls awoke to a rematch with Greenville, their opponent in the season opener. After being held to just one goal in their first two games of the tourney, the Pantherettes were determined to end the dry spell. Following the strategy of score early and score often, NL had six first half goals to take command of the match. Baker led the way with two goals, with Rangel, Karlie Ewell (2), Savannah Moore (17) and Natalie Allen (3) each scoring one. Sydnee Beshirs (1) and Rangel each had two assists with Karlee Alexander (23) adding one. Goalie Shaina Brown (16) contributed 12 saves to help NL win 6-3.
That afternoon, the JV faced Sulphur Springs, a perennial powerhouse in area soccer. Goalie Chavez had 12 saves in the game, but the girls could not generate any offense against the vaunted SS squad and were eliminated from tournament play with a 3-0 loss.
The varsity girls came back Saturday for the final round with a chance to earn their way into the tournament championship if they could win by three or more goals. A match with Lancaster on a cold windy morning would be a strong early test for NL. Seven minutes into the match, Alexander would open the scoring with a goal on a corner kick from the left side to give NL a 1-0 lead. Six minutes later Baker would score from the right side to give the Pantherettes a 2-0 lead that held up to halftime. NL opened the 2nd half with a good chance to make the championship match, but Lancaster scored a goal early on to dampen their hopes. Facing a defense that had the aid of a strong north wind, NL would not score. In spite of the 2-1 victory, NL now was headed for the 3rd place match later that afternoon.
NL’s final match of the tournament would be a rematch against Ferris. Two evenly matched squads would play to a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation play. Alexander scored on a penalty kick with Rangel providing the tying score later in the match. Two scoreless overtime periods led to a five-shot shootout. NL would lose the shootout and the match with the final 2-2 (4-2) to finish 4th in the tournament.
In an exhausting weekend of play in wet, windy and cold weather, there were plenty of good things for Coach Ewell to build on going forward. The next match will be Tuesday when the JV squad travels to take on Sunnyvale. The varsity ladies will see action next weekend in the King’s Classic Tournament at Paris High. Make plans to turn out and support Pantherette soccer!