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GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER: Permian in a better spot entering playoffs - Odessa American: Sports

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GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER: Permian in a better spot entering playoffs

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Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2019 5:03 pm

After making the playoffs as the No. 4 seed out of District 2-6A the last two years, the Permian girls soccer team paved an easier road this season.

With the No. 2 seed in hand, the Lady Panthers want to take advantage of that chance.

 They get their first crack at it against El Paso Pebble Hills in a Class 6A bi-district playoff game at Sul Ross State University in Alpine.

“We had struggled to finish higher than fourth each of the last two years and we had to learn to scrap and fight and do the dirty work to get the job done,” head coach Chad Peterson said. “It really came full circle this year and I think that 17-3-3 record shows that.”

One of the biggest differences from this year’s Lady Panthers squad is the young faces on the team from the last two playoff runs are now veterans.

With 10 seniors on the squad, that experience and leadership has proved invaluable for a team looking to advance out of the first round for the first time in three seasons.

“I’m very proud of how this team has come together,” senior defender Kendra Cecil said. “This is the closest team that we’ve had in the entire four years that we’ve been here.”

“We’re all very close and we all trust each other,” senior midfielder Tobi McCoy said. “Being that there are so many seniors on the team, we didn’t want to get into the playoffs as a four seed again. We definitely wanted to get better.”

Peterson has seen the growth from his team and what it has been able to accomplish so far.

Not only the senior presence at work, but also the marked improvement from some of the younger players.

“Our older players have been through those down years,” he said. “But the younger players that we’ve brought on are solid. They know how to push each other and we just have to settle down and play.”

There is also the mental hurdle of trying to get out of the first round.

The Lady Panthers have had their chances to advance, falling in a penalty-kick shootout to El Paso Franklin in 2017. They lost to El Paso El Dorado 2-1 last season.

With those games now in the memory bank, the belief is that the team can use them to its advantage this time around.

“That experience really helps us,” McCoy said. “It also helps the younger players because we know what to expect and we can step up and keep everyone calm.

Experience is something that the Lady Panthers will have an advantage over their opponent as Pebble Hills is making its first postseason appearance in program history.

Permian knows that it will have to be prepared against a Lady Spartans side that plays a contrasting style to what it typically sees.

“They are very close together defensively and we typically play teams that are a little more spread out,” Cecil said. “It will be an adjustment for sure and we just have to be ready.”

Peterson acknowledge that there will be adjustments made with the slower pace of Pebble Hills.

That said, his focus is on having the team ready to go from the opening whistle and he feels like that the girls can step up to the challenge.

“I just want to see our team have fun and enjoy it,” he said. “I think we’ve outplayed our opponents in the last two games but we just didn’t get it done on the scoreboard.

“If we just go out there and focus on what we can control, everything else is going to take care of itself.”

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