Friday, May 11, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Southside defense stymies Panthers

Southwest Times-Record

Fort Smith Southside scored two first-half goals and spent the second half defending them Thursday at the 7A state tournament for a 2-0 win against Cabot in the girls’ division.

With the win, Southside advanced to play Rogers Heri age at Rowland Stadium in the second round. Heritage beat the Lady Rebels in a 7A-West match in the regular season, 1-0.

Against Cabot, Southside controlled the opening minutes of the match.

In the 10th minute, Southside won a corner kick. The ball deflected off Cabot’s goalkeeper’s hands, skipped off one player and then was nodded into goal by senior Sydney King.

In the 36th minute, Southside’s Emilee Cole raced down the right wing. She cut back into the middle of the field at the edge of the 18-yard box so suddenly the Cabot defender low shot into the lower left corner of the goal for a 2-0 Southside lead.

“She has the ability to do that every game,” Southside coach Steven Thessing said of Cole. “She’s kind of taken that (scoring) role reluctantly, even though she’s got the skills do it. She’s really embraced it lately and knows we need that to have some success.”

While King and Cole provided the offense, newly-minted goalkeeper Dorian Briggs made 11 saves. Twice, she stopped three-on-one breaks by the Lady Panthers (14-6) by charging the shooter with a slide-tackle just as the ball was shot.

“She’s only been playing soccer for about two months now, but she’s a competitor and that just comes from being an athlete,” Thessing said of Briggs, who joined the team after basketball season ended. “She takes it on herself to get better and better every time she steps on the field.”

Cabot coach Kerry Castillo said Briggs’ play was a huge factor in the match.

“I thought she did an outstanding job of preventing us from getting a good shot on goal on those breaks,” Castillo said. “By the time we were preparing to shoot, she was already on top of us.”

In the second half, Southside (10-8-1) focused on defense and protecting the 2-0 lead. The Lady Rebels left Cole alone near midfield, but dropped everybody else into defensive positions.

“We left Cole up top to provide some attack. But that was our gameplan in the second half,” Thessing said. “We felt good with a two-goal lead and felt confident in our goalkeeper. I thought we played really good in the back on defense.”

In the other first-round matches, Fayetteville beat North Little, 8-0, Mount St. Mary’s Academy blanked Rogers, 4-0, and Har-Ber advanced when Little Rock Hall forfeited. Hall suspended a number of players and didn’t have enough on the roster to field a team for the tournament.