MIDLOTHIAN – When senior Isaac Arrington scored his first goal, he turned and screamed to the Midlothian bench, “Let’s go.” When he scored his second, he celebrated with everyone around him, including a high-five to some of the Lady Panther players who were warming up off to the side.
All that emotion might have paled in comparison to whatever was said in the team locker room at halftime. Whatever it was, it sparked a second half comeback that led to a 2-1 win over Grand Prairie on senior night.
“I told them in the locker room I’m not going to go out in my last (home) game with a loss. We’ve got 40 minutes we call ‘try hard mode’ where you just give it everything you’ve got,” Arrington said. “We really wanted this one. It’s our last memory here. You didn’t want to go out knowing you could have given that five extra yards to go ahead and score but you gave up on it.”
Facing a stout wind and a Gopher team that was just one spot back in the district standings, Midlothian (13-4-4, 7-1-4 district) fell behind under eight minutes into the match on a shot that caught everyone off guard.
The deficit stayed on the board for the rest of the first half, sending the Panthers into the locker room looking to make adjustments.
Coach Austin Guest was worried the festivities of senior night might be a distraction his team would struggle handling.
It didn’t make the game any less important. It did make his team’s response that much more impressive.
“In the context of all these distractions we’ve still got to find a way to get a result in a very tight, important (district) race with a team that leapfrogs us in the standings if they beat us. Ultimately we started off slowly and were unfocused and it got a little better before half,” Guest said. “At halftime we had a great discussion and the seniors stepped up and at the risk of being trite, the seniors played like seniors. They played like men among boys and it made a big, big difference for us.”
Just 10:04 into the second half, Arrington broke loose for his first goal of the night as Matthew Robertson hit him with pass while streaking toward the goal.
The shot went left as the goalie went right, tying the game and sending Arrington to the middle of the field to rally his teammates’ spirits.
The battle cry took hold as Midlothian spent a majority of the second half on the attack rather than in defense. Still, the game was a deadlock for more than 20 more minutes.
That’s when Arrington got involved in the offense again, this time gathering a Brian Robertson miss off the Grand Prairie goalie and punching it back into the net for the go-ahead goal while nearly slamming into a post.
From there, it was up to the Panther defense to stand tall and the team did just that. Midlothian stopped several Gopher shots on goal in the final two minutes, including one last shot that almost tied the match.
A foul was called just before time expired, giving Grand Prairie one final look with :02 left. The shot was a high, attempt that goal Scott Hayden deflected at the last second to preserve the win.
While the win was good for senior morale, it was also important in the district race. The Panthers are more secure in their second place spot and still have a chance to catch Mansfield Legacy if the Broncos slip up and fall in one of their final two games.
“The end was kind of tough with the ref making that call. We knew how to deal with the problem. We knew how to win the game,” senior Emigidio Arvizu said. “It feels great but it’s more than that. We’re fighting for a district championship right now, that’s the reason I like to win because I want to win that district.”
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