Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SPORTS >> Lady Bears win inaugural event

Leader sportswriter

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears came up big in the River City Rivalry Cup soccer tournament by taking the championship and placing four players on the all-tournament team at Burns Park over the weekend.

A coaches’ ballot determined player recognition, and Sylvan Hills sophomore forward Abigail Persson took the Outstanding Player award while senior Naomi Gregory was awarded as Outstanding Goalkeeper through the three-day tournament.

Sophomore forward Cayln “K.K.” Fulton and senior defender Kashima Wright were also named to the all-tournament team.

The Lady Bears had to fight hard to take the title in the championship game against a defensively-sound Maumelle team. The Lady Hornets fought the tourney hosts to a 2-2 draw in regulation before Hillside dominated the penalty-kick shootout period 3-0.

“We missed a lot of opportunities; things that are normally sure goals for us,” Lady Bears coach Nate Persson said. “Their midfield is so good, they wore us down, and it turned into a dogfight.

“I told them that we really didn’t want to go into a shootout with these people, because I didn’t think we had a chance, but they proved me wrong.”

Persson scored both of Sylvan Hills’ goals in regulation and added another in overtime, but it was Gregory’s work in front of the net that denied any more scores from Maumelle. Wright and Fulton put the Lady Bears up by two, and Persson’s kick into the lower right corner secured the crown.

“They were just exhausted, but they kept pushing,” Persson said. “That’s what made me very proud of them. The defense had to play really hard.”

Sylvan Hills defeated Vilonia 3-0 in the first round on Thursday, as all four winning teams advanced with shutout victories. Batesville downed White Hall 9-0, Maumelle beat North Pulaski 6-0 and eStem Charter got past Mills University Studies 3-0.

Sylvan Hills made it to the championship game with a 4-0 victory over eStem in Friday’s semifinal round and Maumelle shutout Little Rock Hall, which was playing in place of Batesville, 3-0 to set up the championship matchup.

The Sylvan Hills boys team took runner-up in the tournament, losing 2-0 to Maumelle in the final round on Saturday. The two teams battled to a scoreless tie at the end of regulation before the Hornets dominated the penalty-kick period to take the title.

Bears senior forward Jeremiah Persson received the Out-standing Player award while teammates Edwin Smith and David Johnson were also named to the all-tournament team. Chang Vang of Mills was named Outstanding Goalkeeper.

The Bears advanced through the first round with a 5-2 victory over e-Stem Charter on Thursday, and tied with Vilonia 0-0 through regulation in Friday’s semifinal match before pulling out the victory 4-3 in the shootout. Maumelle defeated Hall 3-2 in the first round and won a wild 11-10 shootout match with Mills in the semis after being tied 2-2 at the end of regulation.

The North Pulaski Lady Falcons recovered from a first-round loss to eventual runner-up Maumelle to win their next two games and finish fifth in the final overall standings.

The Lady Falcons beat 5A Southeast Conference rival White Hall 5-3 in wet conditions on Friday, and came up big against Vilonia 3-1 in the consolation finals on Saturday. Senior Mercedes Wilson was named to the all-tournament team for North Pulaski.

The Falcon boys lost all three games, including a close 3-1 heartbreaker to Hall on Saturday. Falcon forward Ulyses Aries was named to the all-tournament team.