Tuesday, May 14, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot ladies classy after tourney loss

Leader sportswriter

Cabot may have lost its final game of the season in a 3-0 shutout against Bryant in the quarterfinal round of the 7A state soccer tournament at Panther Stadium on Friday, but the Lady Panthers were winners in another capacity when it came to showing support for a good cause the following day.

Bryant had better legs than Cabot due to a first-round bye for the Lady Hornets as the No. 2 seed out of the 7A Central Conference after the Lady Panthers battled hard in their opening win against Rogers on Thursday. The game was scoreless through one half of play, but fatigue started to set in on the Lady Panthers in the final 40 minutes as Bryant scored on a corner kick early in the second half and added two more goals before the final horn.

The Lady Hornets wore white socks with a single pink stripe in the middle to show support for five different Bryant soccer moms who are battling breast cancer. Cabot junior forward Jessica Souza inquired about the meaning behind the socks, and when she spread the news to her teammates, they made a decision to show their support during Bryant’s semifinal loss to Mount St. Mary on Saturday by showing up to Panther Stadium wearing pink shirts.

“Wins or losses – I don’t care if we would have lost every game this year,” Lady Panthers coach Kerry Castillo said. “To see those girls show that kind of sincerity and compassion, that’s a winning season when you have girls who will do that. That’s something I’m real proud of in the end.”

Souza earned a yellow card in the 11th minute of the first half, but rebounded with a couple of scoring opportunities later in the half, including a header that just missed the mark with 13:04 remaining.

The Lady Hornets went on the attack at the start of the second half, earning a corner kick in the first minute that was denied, but the play resulted in Cabot knocking the ball across its own end line to give Bryant another corner kick. The Lady Hornets capitalized on the second one, as Lexie Balisterri’s kick found Rori Whittaker for a successful header to give Bryant a 1-0 lead.

Anna Lowery made it 2-0 in the 15th minute with another goal for the Lady Hornets, and Shelby Gartrell put the final score in with just over eight minutes remaining.

“I certainly felt like fatigue played a role with us,” Castillo said. “You could really see it in the second half. First half, we created several chances. It was more of a back-and-forth game. They gave us a little trouble in certain areas.

“After the game, I told the girls how immensely proud I am of them for everything we’ve accomplished.”

The Lady Panthers lose senior captain Tabitha Owens and senior goalkeeper Hana Cooper, but the rest of the team remains intact for next year. That includes junior standout Souza, and a host of underclassman talent that includes Codee Park, Devin Patterson, Sydney Farquharson, Braxton Reed and Maddie Rice.

Due to the confusing and imbalanced points system used by the Arkansas Activities Association for assigning tournament seeds, Cabot (12-6-4) entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed out of the 7A Central Conference, despite a strong 6-1 run through the 7A/6A East.

“I think the point system really hurt us this year,” Castillo said. “There are probably several other teams who felt the same way. We only had one loss, which counted as two, because our conference only played each other once. A team that finished with three losses managed to have more points than we did.”