Friday, May 13, 2011

SPORTS>>Lady Red Devils seize momentum

Leader sportswriter

Taylor Ruple made the most of what little daylight she saw during Jacksonville’s 2-1 victory over Little Rock Parkview at Jan Crow Field on Tuesday.

The victory secured the 6A-East Conference No. 4 seed in the state tournament for the Lady Red Devils.

Ruple scored two first-half goals before Parkview took her out of the mix in the second half by surrounding the junior forward with defenders. The Lady Patriots also controlled the ball for most of the second half, but found strikes against junior goalkeeper J’Quia Alexander difficult.

Alexander had nine saves, including two during Parkview’s furious comeback attempt in the closing minutes. The Lady Patriots managed to slip one in on Alexander with a high shot from the right side in the 37th minute.

“This is a game they’ve been looking forward to playing,” said Jacksonville coach Addie Sereal, who coaches with her husband Quentin. “They are now going to state, so they are very proud of that.”

Ruple gave Jacksonville the lead just 30 seconds in with a 10-yarder that was made easy when Parkview’s goalie came out of the box to defend. The early goal was key for Jacksonville, as Parkview kept two defenders on Ruple at all times, and sometimes as many as four on throw-ins.

But the Lady Red Devils found their spots and countered the Lady Patriots with some gadgetry on a penalty kick granted to junior midfielder Katie Lawrence in the final minute of the first half.

Lawrence lined up for the 30-yard attempt with Ruple standing in the background. Lawrence lightly tapped the ball to put it in play before Ruple blasted it into the top left corner of the goal to give Jacksonville a 2-0 halftime lead.

“It’s something we go over in practice,” Jacksonville coach Quentin Sereal said. “We’ve played it over and over in practice probably 100 times. We do have some plays in there where we switch between the two of them.”

Parkview tried to earn penalty kicks in the second half with players falling down on the field at the slightest of incidental contact. Bumping shoulders at times resulted in complete somersaults, while parents and even Parkview players screamed at officials.

“They put a lot of pressure on us, so hats off to Parkview,” Quentin Sereal said. “They did a real good job. They played pretty much a box on one of our best players to take her out of the game.

“We had to do some things to switch and get her some free shots, so that’s what we did.”

The extra pressure on Ruple allowed freshman Courtney Moody to work effectively against Parkview’s defense.

Though she did not score, Moody kept possession on Jacksonville’s side of the field for much of the first half, and had two shots during that time.

The brackets were still being filled in following Jacksonville’s conference finale against Parkview.

The Lady Devils appeared headed for the No. 5 seed with a matchup against Benton in the first round, but when the dust settled, they were No. 4 with a first-round matchup against Sheridan, the No. 5 seed out of the 6A South, on Friday.

“Wherever we are at, we are going to be out there and give it our best effort and give 110 percent,” Quentin Sereal said.

Parkview beat Jacksonville 2-0 in the boys game.