WACO — Laurence Chamberlain pumped his hands at the crowd, signalling the Midlothian Panthers’ fans not to get too excited about his second goal and the Panthers’ 2-0 lead late in the first half.
The Harker Heights Knights had come to play.
The Knights took seven shots in the first 18 minutes against the District 7-5A champions, playing unafraid against a team that allowed just four goals through its entire 14-game district season.
But Chamberlain’s second goal proved to Heights’ undoing as Midlothian scored a third goal before halftime and beat the Knights 5-0 in a Region I-5A bi-district soccer playoff game Friday at Waco ISD Stadium.
“In the first 20 minutes, they were very physical, very big. We have a few players that match their physicality, but they’ve got a lot more physical players,” said Heights coach Jared Cruddas. “We fought hard, we played well — definitely decent at times — and had some opportunities, especially in the first half. If one things goes this way, then it changes the course of the game.”
Midlothian (16-2-7) dominated the second half, out-shooting the Knights 12-2 in the final four minutes and faces Lewisville Hebron in an area-round game next week at a date, site and time yet to be determined. Hebron defeated Carrolton Turner 5-3 in its first-round game.
The Panthers’ first two shots were off-target and Harker Heights (14-9-4), making its third-straight playoff appearance, picked up its offensive pressure after that.
The Knights took three shots in a five-minute span before Chamberlain scored on Midlothian’s next shot attempt in the 10th minute.
“We were very excited, very focused. We thought we were going to have a good game, actually did good in that first 15-20 minutes, then the first goal goes in and we all sink,” Harker Heights senior captain Chris Perez said. “It was a game-changer.”
But, the Knights didn’t let up. They took three more shots and had a corner kick chance in the next nine minutes before Chamberlain’s second goal in the 27th minute gave the Panthers their 2-0 lead.
“After that (goal), we just didn’t match them very well,” Perez said.
Cole Davidson scored on Brandon Cirilo’s corner kick in the 42nd minute for Midlothian’s 3-0 lead at halftime.
Then, the Panthers tightened their defense and matched that with an offensive onslaught.
Dylan Chancey scored from the right side in the 49th minute on an assist from Jared Chancey that teammate Jose Morales missed right in front of the goal. Jared Chancey followed that with a goal on an assist from Chamberlain in the 52nd minute for a 5-0 lead.
“Even after that, up until the last minute of the game, even being down five goals, we were still possessing the ball very well, moving it about, just not being as dangerous as I thought we would, that’s a hats off to their defense,” Cruddas said. “They’re defense is very solid. They gave up four goals through their whole district play, for us to muster our chances against a ballclub like that is good testament to our kids.”