North Lamar came into Tuesday night's match with the Liberty-Eylau Leopards having lost their last three games and desperately needing a victory to get back on track. The match would be a true test of how well this young Panther squad would react to adversity.
The offensive focus was evident as NL relentlessly pushed the ball into L-E territory throughout the first half with multiple scoring opportunities. Their tenacity finally paid off when Korbin Peralta (18) put the ball in the goal with the assist from Garret Douglas (17) to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead that would hold up until halftime.
The Leopards were poised to take control of the game after scoring fairly quickly in the second half. However, NL responded with unrelenting pressure, controlled ball movement and disciplined passes that yielded goals by Peralta, Christian Stockton (15) and Kshatiz Basnet (10) , giving the Panthers a 4-1 lead. These goals scored in a span of less than 10 minutes gave NL control of the game and saw L-E succumb to undisciplined action.
The final 24 minutes were played in a very physical and vocal manner that should have been controlled by the referees. However, the Panthers continued to play with a quiet discipline and sealed the win as Jesper Engstrom (16) scored his second goal of the night with a header at the 37-minute mark. NL would give up a trash goal in the final two minutes but held on to win 5-2.
Coach Aaron Welch commented, "I'm very proud of the way the guys stayed calm and kept their heads when the refs lost control of the game. Our players showed great poise and maturity beyond their years. And in that type of game, the team that can do that will prevail"
The win improves the Panthers to 4-5-1 in preseason play. Nick West (1) looks to return to play in goal as the Panthers face Sunnyvale on Friday night at R. L. Maddox stadium.
In earlier action, the JV squad faced off against Gainesville. Down 4-0 with 10 minutes left in the match, the young Panthers went on a scoring frenzy with Juan Cervantes (16) scoring one and Dylan Knowles (15) scoring two. However, time ran out on their rally with Gainesville winning 4-3.