Monday, April 08, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls get league victory

Leader sportswriter

The lead-up to a potential 7A/6A East Conference title shootout at the end of the season is still intact for Cabot as the Lady Panthers knocked off Mountain Home 3-1 on the road Tuesday to get past one of the biggest obstacles in their quest.

The Lady Panthers (6-1-4, 3-0) gave up an early goal by Mountain Home in the first two minutes, but personnel adjustments after that allowed the defense to tighten up and hold off any major threats for the duration.

Junior standout Jessica Souza scored one goal and assisted on two more as Cabot made the most of its first-half opportunities.

“We started possessing so well,” Lady Panthers coach Kerry Castillo said. “I was so pleased. We even had several parents come up after the game and comment on our ball control. We did a good job of keeping it on the ground. We may have had a couple of goals where their goalkeeper spilled it, and you might call that a product of the weather that day, but when we had chances, we executed.”

The Lady Bombers went up 1-0 when their offense got behind Cabot’s midfield, but the Lady Panthers quickly answered when Souza crossed it to freshman Sydney Farquharson to tie the game at 1-1.

Souza was the beneficiary of a crossing shot and spill on the next Cabot score as she took an assist from freshman Braxton Reed and beat the goalkeeper to give the Lady Panthers their first lead at 2-1. Souza got her second assist and helped set the final margin late in the first half when she found Reed on a through ball, as Reed took advantage of another GK error by Mountain Home.

Castillo also noted the outstanding play of junior goalkeeper Hana Cooper, who essentially played over 75 minutes of shutout soccer against one of the premier soccer programs in the state.

“We made some adjustments, and they never really threatened again,” Castillo said. “I was real pleased with how we performed. That was a big one for us. The girls know how important it is for us to be able to continue this level of play. They know the situation in conference, and know we pretty much have to win out from here if we want it to come down for a chance to win it all.”

The Lady Panthers are eyeing a potential showdown against Searcy on April 30, which will also be senior night at Panther Stadium for the final 7A/6A East game of the season, but must first get past other strong league contenders in the form of Little Rock Central and Jonesboro.

“We’re growing as a team,” Castillo said. “We’ve got some players who are developing well. Hopefully, it will put us in a situation where we can be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. We’re also hosting the playoffs, we don’t have to travel at all for it, so hopefully, we can go deep into the playoffs.”

The Panthers boys’ team was not as fortunate and fell to the Bombers in overtime on Tuesday after regulation ended in a scoreless tie.