The latest edition of the Crosstown Showdown was played on a chilly Valentine's night this week. The Lady Cats of Paris travelled the long distance across town to face the North Lamar Pantherettes. The two teams have been evenly matched in recent history. The pressure intensified this year with the addition of 18th ranked Community to the district, which means that a spot in the playoffs is no longer guaranteed.
The Pantherettes were coming off a loss to Princeton in their district opener and have had the appearance of a team struggling to find its identity. Changes to the roster, some focused coaching and the return of Senior starter, Peyton Fleming, would all prove to have an impact on the contest.
A small but boisterous group of fans on both sides of the field loudly expressed their support as the teams took the field. The first half was full of energy and excitement as both teams pushed hard and had several shots on goal. NL goalie, Karlie Ewell, was solid in goal with numerous saves that allowed NL to go to the half with a 0-0 tie.
Six minutes into the 2nd half, NL senior defender, Olivia Reader, was called for a foul inside the box. The resulting penalty kick by Paris forward, Deagan Dingman, was converted to give Paris a 1-0 lead. The Pantherettes relentlessly pushed the ball forward with passing and positioning that improved as the game moved on. With 18 minutes left in the match, the NL offense worked the ball up the right side, then through the middle to freshman forward, Jaycie Proctor, who scored from 10 yards out to tie the match at 1-1.
Intensity of play and passion of the fans continued to grow as the clock continued it's countdown. After 6 minutes of back and forth possessions, the Pantherettes worked the ball to Peyton Fleming deep in Paris territory on the right side. Fleming dribbled the ball past a Lady Cat defender then launched a floater that had the appearance of being too high before dropping in the goal just over the keeper's outstretched hands. This gave NL a 2-1 lead with 12 minutes left in the match. The Pantherette defense that had been solid all night held up to the test, holding Paris scoreless in the final minutes and sealing the victory for NL.
The victory gives the Pantherettes a 1-1 record in district play. NL has a bye before traveling to Community on Friday night to face the new addition to the district. Earlier in the evening, the JV Pantherettes defeated Paris 4-0.