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A storm system blew through northeast Texas Tuesday night, setting off the lightning detector at Wildcat Stadium and halting play in the varsity boys soccer match. At the time, Paris led North Lamar, 2-0, with 29:05 remaining to be played.
After a 45-minute wait, officials declared the match final, and the District 19-4A leading Paris Wildcats (18-3-1, 5-1) snapped a two-game skid with their 18th shutout of the season. While Mother Nature ruled the abbreviated second half, it was the natural lightning strikes of a re-energized Blake Beshirs which set the tone in the first half.
Beshirs normally patrols the midfield area with fellow senior Michael Cade as a potent double-barrell playmaker combination, but he was moved into a forward attacking role by coach and father Jeremy Beshirs, trying to spark the Cat offense that went dormant last week in regulation ties with Sulphur Springs and Princeton. Paris beat SSHS in a shootout, then lost to Princeton in another shootout.
The Wildcats scored just one goal in regulation last week despite countless opportunities to finish. They missed out on more quality chances Tuesday vs. NL, but Beshirs made sure they didn’t come away empty-handed.
His first goal came just 9:29 into the match. Senior Josh Kirby was attacking down the right sideline when a Panther defender redirected the ball into the middle of the field where Beshirs was waiting. He settled the ball, dribbled toward the goal and flicked it over the onrushing Panther goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.
His second goal came less than 10 minutes later and was a monumental thing of beauty. Jose Escobedo‘s short pass from midfield found Beshirs streaking down the left flank. After a prolonged 50-yard controlled sprint past a pair of Panther defenders, Beshirs sent a left-footed cross from a severe angle near the corner flag toward the goal. The ball sailed over the goalie’s outstretched reach and curved under the far top 90 for a 2-0 lead.
It was the 50th career goal for the Ouachita Baptist signee.
Beshirs wasn’t through with his personal assault on goal although he wasn’t able to get the elusive hat trick. His best opportunites were on a header off a corner kick and a cross from point-blank range, but both shots were lifted just over the crossbar.
The two goals pushed Beshirs’ season total to 17.
Meanwhile, the Paris defense again prevented any sustained rushes on goalkeeper Angel Rocha, who was forced into a single save on a free kick from 22 yards out.
As the second half began, a loud clap of thunder could be heard in the distance. More scoring thunder was expected from the Cats on the field. This time, the plan was to move Cade (20 season and 49 career goals) up front to continue the all-out assult, but that plan never saw fruition as the lightning alarm soon sent both teams scurrying for cover in the fieldhouse.
Cade’s bid for career goal No. 50 would be put on hold for another day.
His next opportunity will be Friday back at Wildcat Stadium. It will be Senior Night for arguably the finest collection of soccer talent to ever wear the blue and white of Paris High. The opponent will be the Greenville Lions and kickoff is set for 7 p.m. There will be no JV match because Greenville does not have a JV squad.
In Tuesday’s JV match, Paris took a 4-0 win over the junior Panthers.