MIDLOTHIAN – On a night when those who will be leaving were honored the Midlothian girls soccer program made a youthful statement both for next season and the more immediate future.
Bucking a trend of slow starts, the Lady Panthers (11-6-3, 9-3 district) rolled out to 3-0 halftime lead before picking up a 4-0 win over Grand Prairie in the home finale. All four goals came from underclassmen. Those elements combined to leave coach Sid Danner very optimistic and excited.
“The goals that we scored tonight in the first half were fantastic, some of the best work I’ve ever seen. The way they combined, they did things we’ve been practicing and it showed,” Danner said. “When we do those things and work on the things we do in training and then you see it on the field it makes you feel real good that you’re progressing.”
Kaitlyn Bush put the team up less than five minutes into the match when she took a Kaylea Cox pass and fired off a shot that opened the scoring. A little over 10 minutes later, Bush returned the favor hitting Cox with a pass she turned into a goal and a 2-0 advantage.
The first half onslaught was capped just moments later when Ashley Cox managed to lace a pass through defenders to Bush who picked up her second goal of the half to spark the rout.
“I think it was really important (to start strong) because we normally come out slow and we’re normally not focused,” Bush said. “This time it all changed because I think we took time and thought about it’s for our seniors and that we need to win for them. We took the focus for them and not for ourselves.”
The second half was far less exciting offensively as the Lady Panther defense did most of the dirty work by keeping Grand Prairie away for any good looks at the net. Freshman goalie Dani Mayfield gave way to sophomore Ashley Hairston who kept the shutout rolling with a handful of saves.
After more than 30 minutes of scoreless action, the team added one final insurance goal as Brie Munoz passed off to Riann Winget who launched a looping shot from more than 20 yards out that slipped just past the leaping Lady Gopher goal keeper and gave the Lady Panthers their final point for the big win.
While the underclassmen stole the show, the senior class was appreciative of the effort. Several seniors were forced to sit out with injury on the night as the seven-person class was one of the smallest in recent history for the program.
“It’s great. It helps us out a lot. Even when we have our subs come on, the level of play doesn’t drop, it picks back,” Munoz, one of those seniors, said.
With just two games left in the regular season, the Lady Panthers are hoping to close strong and lock up one of the top two playoff spots. The final two games take place on the road against Mansfield Timberview and Mansfield, both of which pulled off wins in the first round.
That might sound like a big challenge for some teams but Danner is confident his squad will respond to the adversity, just like they’ve done all season.
“Actually we’ve had pretty good form on the road. We’re not too worried about that. Hopefully if we can get some people back from injury and some other unfortunate things I think we’ll be OK,” Danner said.
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