Tuesday, May 08, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers topple Bryant

Leader sportswrier

Senior night produced another win for the Cabot Lady Panthers as they defeated visiting Bryant 2-1 at Panther Stadium on Friday.

The Lady Panthers (13-5, 9-4) scored two first-half goals, and held their ground defensively in the second half when the Lady Hornets mounted their comeback charge.

Cabot forwards Jessica Souza and Lexi Lewis sliced through Bryant’s defense and created shots, including a penalty kick for Codee Park from 18 yards out that gave the Lady Panthers an early 1-0 lead.

“Striking the set piece is Codee’s specialty,” Lady Panthers coach Kerry Castillo said. “She takes our corners and can send it swinging in deep, and she can also take the close free kick and finesse the ball to goal. She’s also a threat in the run of play making runs out of the backline unmarked to freely cross or shoot. She’s one of our scoring weapons and the beautiful part is the other team never sees her coming because she’s a defender.”

Souza got the next scored for Cabot later in the first half when Braxton Reed played her in behind the defense for the assist on an 18-yard strike by Souza to give the Lady Panthers a 2-0 lead at halftime.”

“I could rave about our work rate in this game,” Castillo said. “We took steps to prevent the players from dehydrating and it’s a good thing because each one of them that touched the field absolutely played every minute like it was their last.”

Defensively, senior Taylor Brady and sophomore Devin Patterson prevented Bryant’s attackers from getting looks at junior goalkeeper Hana Cooper. Cabot changed its midfield defense throughout the first half, but it did not affect the Lady Panthers’ ability to mount offensive charges.

Cabot played as conservatively as possible in the second half, but Bryant still managed one score from the corner.

“We came out knowing that the game dynamic was about to change, Castillo said. “They had a big deficit to overcome and we had the “worst lead” you can have in soccer. 2-0 is never safe. You have to defend the other team’s onslaught while trying to manage possession. Most of the time, it’s inevitable that they’ll score at least one, and then you have a nail-biter.”

The Lady Panthers finished up as the No. 3 seed out of the 7A Central Conference, and will take on host Fort Smith Southside in the first round of the 7A state tournament tomorrow at 7 p.m.

The Panthers were not as fortunate and fell to Bryant 4-2 in a penalty-kick shootout after tying the Hornets 1-1 in regulation with a last-minute goal from Jordan Sumler.

“Once again the guy’s prove that they do not know when they are beat,” Panthers coach Steve Porter said. “They kept fighting and battling until the final moments of the game and got the tying goal with one minute remaining in the game. I was disappointed in the goal we conceded, but other than that everyone went out and performed well for the team. Trevor Reed is slowly returning to form and fitness and hopefully by state tournament time will be 100 percent fit.”