The Midlothian High School Panthers won their playoff warmup match against Harker Heights High School, beating the Knights 1-0 on Friday at MISD Multipurpose Stadium.
The win against head coach Ryan Flanigan and one of district 12-6A’s toughest teams didn’t just give the Panthers momentum going into a difficult first round match against Southlake Carroll High School at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Nolan High School football field. It was their fourth shutout in seven games.
“Without five of our six ties, we would be pushing for a district championship,” said Austin Guest, the Panthers head soccer coach, about pulling even with Mansfield, Grand Prairie and Duncanville high schools. “I’m very pleased with our defensive efforts and results this season, though. We only allowed 10 goals and pitched 12 shutouts this season. Obviously, we want to continue this into the playoffs and focus on converting more opportunities at the other end of the field.”
The Panthers, who finished 13-3-6 overall and second in district 8-6A, showed in their game against Harker Heights that the long break had little effect on their success.
MHS senior midfielder Landon Chamberlain scored an unassisted goal, senior defender Antonio Fiallos was a defensive gem and junior goalkeeper Cody Wann secured another shutout for the Panthers.
Joel Mathis, a senior forward and team captain, said shaking off the “rust” of spring break was never an issue for either he or his team because of their focus on a deep playoff run.
“I don’t think I ever had to shake the so called ‘football rust’ off,” said Mathis, who also plays for the football team as a field goal kicker. “Considering my day would start at 5:30 a.m. with football practice and go straight into soccer practice at 8:55 a.m., I never stopped playing soccer all throughout the football season. Many of my teammates are the same or play soccer year round. We love this sport, have been blessed by God with abilities to play and have a bond between each and every one of them that will never be broken.”
Mathis added there are more positives in the ties than negatives, commenting they earned respect in a competitive district.
“The way I see it, is that they are better than losses on our record,” he continued. “Plus, we still get a point for each tie. I would much rather have a win than a tie, but, on the other hand, I would much rather have a tie than a loss. Mistakes are made on the field no matter how ready a team is. It is just how this game goes.
“We have a good group of guys and are very connected, but not everyone thinks the same way on the field in the heat of the moment. The important thing is that we have momentum because it will enable us as a team to carry that energy and will to win into playoffs.”