After an up-and-down district season, the Permian girls soccer team enters the playoffs having regained a little of its nondistrict swagger.
The Lady Panthers face El Paso El Dorado at 3:45 this afternoon at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex in Artesia, N.M. in a Class 6A bi-district matchup.
Permian (15-7-1) enters today’s playoff matchup on a two-game win streak, having defeated Midland Lee and San Elizario by a combined score of 9-0 last week.
“We’re in a good place … we’re getting our mojo back,” Permian junior center back Elissa Easley said.
Permian entered District 2-6A play with an 11-1 record and was ranked among the top 10 teams in the state. A constant in those games was how the Lady Panthers could adapt to most situations and find a way to win.
Then the Lady Panthers’ district foes got the better of them at times. Permian’s turbulent district campaign saw it drop points in six of 10 games.
Even without reaching its lofty district expectations, Permian will look to take those lessons and apply them against a tough first-round opponent.
The Lady Aztecs (19-3-1) were the District 1-6A champions, having dropped only five points in 14 district games. They also have a goal differential of +72, having only given up 14 goals this season.
While Permian has traveled outside of Odessa several times this season, the Lady Aztecs haven’t played a game outside of El Paso since Jan. 6.
“I think we need to show up and we need to be ourselves,” Permian head coach Chad Peterson said. “The last couple of weeks we’ve played a lot of good games against a lot of good teams … oddly enough, the teams that we really don’t know a whole lot about and the teams that we have to travel to, we seem to play a little smarter, a little stronger and a little better. This kind of fits into that wheelhouse a little bit.”
Although the Lady Panthers are traveling out of state and into a different time zone for their bi-district matchup, their last trip to Artesia in 2016 was one of the signature wins in program history.
It was on that early April day when Permian knocked off previously undefeated and No. 1 ranked El Paso Franklin on penalty kicks in a Region I-6A quarterfinal to earn its first trip to the regional tournament in several years.
That also secured the Lady Panthers’ first berth in the Region I-6A tournament since it was held at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland, while three teams from the Metroplex made the five-hour drive west.
Four starters from that win over El Paso Franklin are still on the team — Tobi McCoy, Kendra Cecil, McKenzie Woody and Gabby Galindo.
Juniors Natalie Terry and Briana Moore came off the bench as freshman to help secure that victory.
“I think we have a big chance to win Thursday if we come out with our heads on focused and ready to play,” McCoy said. “We just want to treat it like a regular game, nothing big because we don’t want to get the nerves up or anything. The calmer we keep it, the better we’ll play.”
McCoy added that nerves got the better of the team at times in district play. The Lady Panthers will hope to keep in mind their performances in district victories, as well as their March 9 game against unblemished district champion Wolfforth Frenship.
In that game against the Lady Tigers, Permian went toe-to-toe against the No. 5 team in the state with a few scoring chances. It’ll need a similar effort against the No. 11-ranked Lady Aztecs.
“I think if we stick to our game plan and play the way that we play and keep everything on our timetable and keep our touches right and all that, I think we got a pretty good shot at it,” Peterson said.