After spending several years as an assistant, Coach Duanna Ewell took over as head coach this year with high expectations. Though there were ups and downs through the season, the Pantherettes came together and finished in 2nd place in district. Friday night they travelled to McKinney to face District 10 champion Kaufman in the Area Championship.
NL took an early lead in the match as Kylea Basden scored off a corner kick from Daisy Rangel giving the Pantherettes a 1-0 lead just under 19 minutes in. Goalie Shaina Brown and the defense effectively shut down every Kaufman offensive advance throughout the first half. With under 5 minutes left in the half, Peyton Fleming launched a beautiful shot from about 20 yards out on the right side that sailed across the goal, past the goalie and into the left corner of the net. This highlight goal gave NL a 2-0 halftime lead.
As the 2nd half started, it appeared that the primary adjustment made by Kaufman was to throw more elbows and consistently foul. As their fans shouted encouragement and the refs checked their phones, this strategy paid off with Kaufman scoring three goals to take the lead. Just as it seemed that the Pantherettes season was winding down, Rangel broke away from the pack and scored a goal to tie the match 3-3 with just over two minutes left.
The two teams played to a tie after one overtime period. Just under 7 minutes into the second OT, Kaufman was able to get a goal and take a 4-3 lead. NL fought hard to try to tie it back up in the last three minutes but fell short and saw the season come to an end after 100 minutes of spirited, physical, heart-wrenching play.
Coach Ewell's comments on the close of the season..."Throughout this season I have held this group to a high level of expectation from their classroom performance to their field performance and not once have they let me down. To our seniors, we love you guys and will dearly miss you. I'm proud of each of you girls and look forward to another great season next year!"
In other District 11 matches, Paris beat Ferris 2-0, Princeton lost to Community 2-1 and Bonham lost to Crandall 2-0. Paris will face Kaufman in the Regional Quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Thanks Coach Ewell and ladies for a remarkable season. We wish you seniors the best and look forward to a great season for Pantherette soccer next year.