Lufkin Panthers bring home first ever UIL soccer Championship

Lufkin Panthers bring home first ever UIL soccer Championship
Source: KTRE staff
Source: KTRE staff

GEORGETOWN, TX (KTRE) - The Lufkin Panthers have beaten Georgetown East View 3-1 in the state championship game in Georgetown.

The Panthers struck first in the game after Sr. Forward Omar Zamarripa knocked in a goal from a thrown in by captain Jake Williams in the 14' mark.The Patriots of East View will answer back only 4 minutes later after midfielder Lars Matthews would knock in a goal. The Pack would score one more time in the first with Kacy Bennett getting a header at the 26' mark.

The Panthers would enter halftime with a 2-1 lead.Both teams would get several near misses to start the second half but Omar Zamarripa would score the only goal of the second half at 64' after he would break away and get in an one-on-one match up with a Patriot defender before blasting one past the East View goalie. The Lufkin defense would step up the rest of the half and would stop several late drives by the Patriots.

"These guys are a good team," Zamarripa said. "We knew we had to stick to out game plan. We had to clear the ball out. We could not let them play around down by the net."

The win giver the Lufkin Panthers their first ever UIL soccer championship. The Panthers are also the first ever champion to come out of the East Texas region. Zamarripa was named the state tournament MVP after his two goal performance.

"It means a lot to have the crowd behind us," Williams said. "It shows that they love whatever panther sport is playing."

Head Coach Russell Shaw has been with the Pack for 29 years and said this is the greatest moment he could ever imagine.

""We've had lots of great kids. We've had lots of good teams,"Russell said. "This is for all of them. This is the Pinnacle."

Russell said his team had talked about winning state even thought they started the season 0-2-1.

"We talked state from the beginning," Russell said. "This was always the goal. You know this team would not be denied and half way through the season I knew we had a shot."

"Ever since the season started we knew we had a good team," Zamarripa said. "Those first three games, I'm glad they happened because they woke us up. We are here and we made it."

The win by the pack caps off a 26 game win streak. The players said they talked about the streak but always knew it came down to what they did on the field each and every day.

"We had the same routine every day, so we knew coming in that no matter what the streak was, everybody getting on that field was 0-0," Williams said. "So we knew we had to play just like it was our first game of the year."

Superintendent Dr. LaTonya Goffney said the win is a big step for the school and that the town will celebrate.

"I am so proud of these boys," Goffney said. "This is amazing. We do not know how yet, but we will probably do something on Monday at school and then have a community-wide event like a parade or something, but we still have to plan all that."

The Pack is expected to return to Lufkin Saturday night between 8-9 p.m. and would like for everyone to come out and celebrate when they arrive home.