“Coming up from 5A to 6A, you’re going to get into some bad situations in games and you’re going to have to fight through it and stop worrying about how bad things are. You have to keep going and keep fighting through it, that’s what they were able to do tonight.”
Paetow came into Tuesday on the verge of making history.
Each of the past two years, the Panthers had advanced to the area round of the playoffs, and each of the past two years, the Panthers season came to an end in the second round of the playoffs.
Paetow had never made it to the regional quarterfinals before and they were determined to change that this time around, and the Panthers succeeded on Tuesday, overcoming a talented hard fighting Lamar team 4-3 and getting to that third round.
“We had never been past this point, never gotten past the second round so it gave us so much determination tonight,” said sophomore forward Cesar Garcia. “We just had a drive to do this and get this win. We had to do this for our seniors, we had to win. There’s a lot of those seniors on this team and we’re trying to make the best out of it and keep going.”
Paetow came out firing from the start and jumped out to a two goal lead early after Jose Domingue got behind the Lamar defense and slotted it past a rushing goalkeeper in the 15th minute and Garcia doubled that lead four minutes later when he got a hold of a ball in the box and scored to double the Panthers lead.
“It’s been a journey to get here,” Dominguez said. “My freshman year COVID ended the season and the past two seasons we haven’t been able to get past this point. It’s just a very special day, we made history. Now e have to stay strong an say focused to win in the third round as well.”
Lamar came back to trim the deficit to one shortly before halftime and then tied things five minutes into the second half, but Paetow had the immediate response, as a minute later Garcia took a left footed shot that went across the keeper and in, and Dominguez made it a 4-2 game in the 51st minute when he got a hold of the ball in the box and put it in the back of the net.
“We’ve talked all year about overcoming tough situations all season and that’s what they did tonight,” said Paetow head coach Vinny Vaccaro. “Coming up from 5A to 6A, you’re going to get into some bad situations in games and you’re going to have to fight through it and stop worrying about how bad things are. You have to keep going and keep fighting through it, that’s what they were able to do tonight.”
Lamar got another goal in the 60th minute, but Paetow saw out the game well to hold on and advance.
“This is a really good team we just beat,” Vacarro said. “The reason we were able to do that is 100% because of the competition we have to play every night in Katy ISD. There are teams in our district that didn’t make the playoffs that would have won in the first round, from top to bottom it’s so strong. Facing that every day gets you prepared because every night is like a playoff matchup.
The Panthers advance to play Jordan on Friday, time and location to be determined, as the two Katy ISD members will battle for a spot in the regional tournament.
“We just have to keep listening to the coaching, that’s the most important thing,” Dominguez said. “We have to prepare right, practice right and execute like we know we can. It’s going to be a tough game but I’m confident.”