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Lady Panthers soccer exit playoffs early

Brookhaven’s Lady Panthers got trapped on the wrong end of the soccer field against Pearl River Central Monday night, losing 5-0 to end their season in the first round of the 5A playoffs.

The Lady Blue Devils’ forwards and strikers controlled the game, keeping the ball in or near scoring position for the duration and allowing Brookhaven’s offense few opportunities to attack. The Lady Panthers’ defenders and goalie were in constant contact, and numerous saves and kick-outs ultimately gave way to goals.

“I know this isn’t fun, but you worked hard. I’m proud of y’all — you had a winning season, and you progressed a lot as a team,” head coach Kevin Bower told his team after the game.

The Lady Blue Devils kicked in their first goal with less than eight minutes off the clock and spent the next half-hour harassing BHS sophomore goalie Maddie Brabham. She resisted mightily, saving goals at 16:40, 11:22, 8:28 and 6:21 before being overwhelmed in the penalty box for Pearl River Central’s second score with less than two minutes remaining in the half.

PRC scored twice early in the second half, at 37:38 and 34:38 to take a 4-0 lead, and Brabham saved another shot at 33:05. The Lady Panthers spent the next 10 minutes trying to get in position for their first score, but couldn’t set up a clean shot.

The fight came back to Brookhaven’s end of the field and a scramble before the goal set the Lady Blue Devils up with a penalty kick, which they executed for a 5-0 lead with 21:20 remaining in the game. The Lady Panthers were unable to mount a comeback in the final 20 minutes.

The Lady Panthers finished their season 10-8-2 and were undefeated in Region 6-5A.

“My seniors did a good job of stepping up this season,” Bower said. “This class of seniors had good attitudes and this year they scored a lot more goals, had better leadership — we played tougher teams and had a better record than last year. We can’t replace them. We just need some younger players to step up for next year.”

The defeated sideline was all hugs and tears as the Lady Panthers said goodbye to their seniors and packed up to exit the field for the last time.

“It’s really sad because this is a great team. They’re like a family to me,” said Ole Brook senior Jacy Miller, who plans to attend Southern Miss in the fall. “I want the juniors to remember next year — continue to work hard, try your hardest on the field and remember it will be your senior year. It’s special.”