Monday, April 30, 2012

SPORTS >> Close one goes way of Rockets

Leader sportswriter

Cabot matched league-leading Little Rock Catholic blow for blow through regulation until the Rockets pulled out a 7-5 victory in overtime at Panther Stadium on Thursday.

The Panthers (8-7, 5-6) stayed in contention throughout regulation with two goals from freshman Evan Wilson, and stayed with the 7A Central Conference front runners through three rounds of a penalty kick shootout.

The Rockets went a perfect 5 for 5 in the shootout period while the Panthers missed one attempt when junior Blakelin Devore’s strike went just wide.

Catholic struck first with a shot from straight ahead in the 19th minute. Wilson tied the game with just over a minute left in the first half when he took over possession just inside of midfield and went straight in to the Rockets goalkeeper with a perfect strike up the middle to make it 1-1.

That score held up until the 10:56 mark of the second half when the Rockets scored on a blocked penalty kick that was followed by a successful header that gave the lead back to the visitors. Wilson struck again when he followed a long kick from the left side by David Roberts in the 37th minute.

The loss was not a result of lack of effort from senior forward Eric Silva, who was injured twice in the first half but continued on. Silva played the entire second half and came close to finding the goal on a couple of occasions.

Silva led the way during Cabot’s 5-0 shutout victory over North Little Rock last Friday. Silva scored three goals and had assists on both of the other goals.

Silva scored two early goals in the first half and assisted on a goal by Reed Harrell to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead at halftime.

Cabot got off to a slow start in the second half until Devore caught the Wildcats off guard with a quick throw in to Silva, who was open in the box. Silva got the ball to a charging Wilson, who took it in for the score. Silva set the final margin and completed his hat trick moments later with a header into the corner following a perfect cross by Devore.

“I thought we played quite well at times,” Cabot coach Steve Porter said. “We really possessed the ball well at times and for the most part kept North Little Rock pressed back deep into their half of the field. I’m hoping that this result will help give us the energy and confidence we need to finish the season strong and prepare us for the state tournament.”

The win completed a season sweep over the Wildcats. Cabot won the first meeting between the two teams in similar fashion with a 5-1 result.

“Compared to our last meeting, this was a much improved performance,” Porter said. “We kept a clean sheet and we controlled the game much better.”

As the 7A state tournament at Fort Smith quickly approaches, there is good news for Cabot with the anticipated return of injured sophomore standout Trevor Reed. There is also still an outside chance that the Panthers could secure a first-round bye for the tournament depending on how the final week of games play out across the 7A Central.

Cabot will play at Little Rock Central on Tuesday.