BOYS SOCCER: Abilene Cooper scores two second-half goals in comeback win over Permian

Jacob James scored on a rocketing shot from 30 yards out Tuesday night to give the Permian boys soccer team an early lead, but visiting Abilene Cooper battled back to net two second-half goals and capture a 2-1 win in nondistrict play at Ratliff Stadium.

James’ scoring boot rose, sailed and curved in the driving wind before tucking into the upper-right corner in the 36th minute, giving the Panthers the 1-0 lead that they took into the halftime break.

But Cooper bounced right back early in the second half, when Ezekial Boima cleaned up a ball bouncing around in the Permian box, netting the game-tying goal in the 44th minute.

Then, in the 74th minute, Cooper put in its game-winner, when Pedro Lira broke loose and chased down a through ball just beyond the midfield line, and raced with it to a one-on-one opportunity with Permian keeper Antonio Fernandez before sliding his shot by the keeper and into the net.

“I think our intensity wasn’t as high as it was in the first half,” Permian head coach Luis Carmona said after the loss. “I think we came out a bit flat and thought we had them on the ropes.”

The loss drops Permian to 1-5-3 on the season, with one game left on the schedule between the Panthers and District 2-6A play.

Permian seemed to hold its fair share of possession on the field Tuesday, and the Panthers tested Cooper keeper Nick Silva just as much as Cooper challenged Fernandez, but Cooper separated itself late via that Lira score.

“We didn’t catch the breaks that we needed,” Carmona said. “The effort was there. You can put credit to Cooper, because they held off our attacks. I think, second half, we probably were a little bit complacent, coming out with that 1-0 lead.

“We’ve just got to learn to finish the game for 80 minutes.”

That game-deciding play by Lira could have gone the other way. There was contact near midfield as the ball was being poked through behind the Permian defense. Carmona said some of his players let up during the sequence, anticipating a whistle.

“We’ve just got to play through the whistle and play the entire 80 minutes,” Carmona said.

Permian will play its nondistrict finale on Friday at home against Lubbock Monterey before opening District 2-6A play Feb. 3 against Midland High.

“Obviously the No. 1 goal is to try to get out of that game without any injuries,” Carmona said.

“Get a win and try to get that momentum to carry us to district. But I’m a firm believer, we’re going to catch our break one time or another, and if we’re not catching it now, hopefully we catch it in district. That’s when it’s going to count.”