Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SPORTS >> Cabot soccer bows out

Leader sportswriter

Fort Smith Southside fed off goalkeeper Justin Osman’s big block in the 23rd minute of the second half during the Rebels’ 4-1 victory over host Cabot in the first round of the 7A state tournament at Panther Stadium on Friday.

Cabot senior midfielder William Hidalgo had a chance to tie the game with a straight-ahead penalty kick from short distance, but Osman rejected the attempt and kept the score 2-1. The Rebels (16-3-1) used the momentum to score a pair of late goals.

“We started playing better once we got down,” Fort Smith Southside coach Maruicio Maciel said. “First half, they knew that we couldn’t let them hang in there too much. Otherwise, we were going to get in trouble. But they managed to mentally turn around and play better.”

Gustavo Garcia extended the Rebels’ lead to 3-1 with a goal in the 44th minute, and Wesley Carson added the exclamation point for Southside with the final score inside of two minutes.

“When you miss a PK, it not only energizes the opposing team, but it can also deflate your own team,” Cabot coach Steve Porter said. “That was a pivotal moment for us.

“We score that, we’re right in it, and unfortunately, we didn’t. They pretty quickly went down and scored another to make it 3-1. Essentially, it was game over at that point.”

Cabot (11-8-1) took a 1-0 lead at the 29:46 mark of the first half when Eric Silva charged the right side and scored with a cross kick that caught the lower left corner of the goal and went in.

The drive started in front of the Southside goal with a pass from Hidalgo to Logan Spry, who maneuvered past Southside defenders at midfield and found an open passing lane to Silva.

Spry missed an attempt that went wide right in the first two minutes, and had few other opportunities.

Southside’s defense keyed in on Spry, focusing on potential passing lanes from Hidalgo, who shared place-kicking duties with Spry during football.

Hidalgo, who was used more in a defensive capacity in the first half, also drew extra defensive attention from the visitors in the second half once he began making moves in the near field.

“That was one of our goals as we started the game that we knew that No. 10 and No. 9 were pretty much their offense,” Maciel said. “So we made sure that we closed those passing lanes to them.

“We knew that we were going to neutralize them that way by closing those passing lanes starting at midfield. We knew we gave ourselves a chance.”

Senior Riley Schack became Cabot’s biggest breakaway threat once it was clear Spry was being iced. Schack kicked an accurate attempt that was blocked by Osman at the 19:51 mark of the first half and went wide on another attempt at 14:21.

Spry’s only real attempt in the second half looked good aesthetically, but still fell short in the 31st minute.

Spry, the place kicker before an injury in the fall, kicked a high attempt from 25 yards that took a helpful bend before sailing just wide to the right.

“He’s a great player for us,” Porter said. “He finished the season as our leading scorer. They’re right to focus on him — he’s really big, really strong and really fast. And if you do let him get behind you, he’s going to finish it.”

Coady Wooten tied the game 1-1 for Southside with 9:32 left in the first half.

That kept it tied at intermission before Wooten struck again in the 15th minute of the second half to put the Rebels up for good.

Southside fell short of making the semifinal round with a 3-2 loss to Catholic in overtime Saturday.

The Lady Panthers also ended their season with a first-round loss, as Fayetteville shut them out 3-0.