The North Lamar Panthers faced Bonham Friday night in a matchup that would complete the first half of district play. The Panthers have had some struggles this season but looked to change that. The challenge would not be easy as they were facing a Purple Warriors team that had upset Princeton recently.
NL started the night by honoring senior players Isaiah Lester (7), Christian Stockton (15), Nate Jones (18), Chayanne Peralta (19) and Alexander Gaston (22).
The match was very physical from the start of play. Bonham would take a 1-0 lead, but Kane Forbus (4) scored with 10 minutes left in the half to tie it up 1-1. The Purple Warriors added a second goal early in the 2nd half to take a 2-1 advantage. Matthew Meredith (9) would tie it up again with a goal at the 20 minute mark to make it 2-2.
NL has struggled through the season in the last 20 minutes of the game. However, that would not be the case this night as both teams worked the ball into scoring position several times but each defense held up. This resulted in a 2-2 score at the end of regulation play.
The drama and pressure increased as the teams moved into the first round of the shootout. Each team would take five kicks alternately to try to break the tie. NL goalie Brice Loftin successfully defended three of these, but the Panthers only converted two of their opportunities. So after the first round each team had two goals. The next round was sudden death. Both squads converted on their first kick, but after Bonham missed on their second attempt the door of opportunity opened once again for NL. Zack Figueroa (3) fired the ball past the goalie to give the Panthers their first district win of the season, 2-2(4-3).
After the match, coach Aaron Welch commented "it felt great to get the monkey off our back. We had huge contributions from our bench players last night. A lot of our younger guys really stepped up also and made a huge impact on last night's game. Now we just have to take this momentum and keep rolling through the second round of district. I am extremely pleased with our overall performance last night"
The win puts NL at 1-3 in district play and in a tie with a Bonham for the last playoff spot. The Panthers travel to Princeton on Tuesday to start the second half of district play.