Friday, May 23, 2014

SPORTS STORY>>Lady Panthers fall in round two

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot girls’ soccer team won its first-round game in the class 7A state tournament with a 4-3 win over Rogers Heritage on Thursday, May 15 at Bentonville High School, but fell to the tournament hosts and defending state champions the next day, losing by the final score of 3-0.

Even though Cabot won a share of the 7A/6A-East Conference championship for the second year in a row this season, because of point differentials, it entered the state tournament as the No. 3 seed from the Central division behind No. 1 Mount St. Mary and No. 2 Little Rock Central, the only team to beat the Lady Panthers in conference play this year.

The Lady Panthers entered their first-round matchup against Heritage with their top 11 players healthy, but the Lady War Eagles struck first on the scoreboard to lead 1-0.

Cabot’s top scorer, Jessica Souza, pulled the Lady Panthers to an even 1-1 score with a stellar one-on-one goal that shot into the upper portion of the net. Heritage, however, once again took the lead with a corner kick that Cabot failed to clear.

Sydney Farquharson scored the next goal for Cabot on a one-touch half volley to the right upper portion of the net after getting on the end of a crossing pass from Souza. The score was 2-2 at the half.

The Lady Panthers appeared to take the lead for good when Devin Patterson scored in typical fashion by getting on the end of a Codee Park corner kick that gave Cabot a 3-2 lead. Souza scored shortly after receiving a crossing pass from Anna Applegate that made it a 4-2 game.

Heritage kept at it and earned a penalty kick that led to the final goal of the game, and Cabot held them off for the remainder of the first round to advance to the second against Bentonville.

The tournament hosts proved to be the superior team as they ended Cabot’s season with a 3-0 triumph over the Lady Panthers. All three of the Lady Tigers’ goals scored in that game came in the first half.

“We just couldn’t get going in attack,” said Cabot girls’ coach Kerry Castillo. “Defensively, we were also breaking down. The stigma of Bentonville along with some apparent stage fright seemed to be our Achilles’ heel. In the end, they were just the superior team on that day.”

Even though Cabot lost the game, Castillo is proud of his team for its accomplishments this season, especially the senior class, which joined the program the same year Castillo took over head coaching duties.

“They came in the same year I did,” Castillo said. “A year earlier, the program saw only one win. Now, we’ve made the playoffs for four consecutive years, been co-conference champions for two years in a row now, and have taken the program from a one-win season in 2010 to eight in 2011, 10 in 2012, 13 in 2013 and 15 in 2014.

“That is a testament to the foundation those seniors laid with much hard work and sacrifice of their time to get better. We’ve lost two years in a row in the quarterfinals now, signifying that we’re one of the top eight teams in 7A.

“We will only become more successful as time passes and younger girls see how successful they can be and how successful we can be. I have lofty expectations for our future and it’s due to this year’s group of seniors for building us one year at a time for their high-school career.

“I wish I could do more to express my gratitude to them. They are very special to me.”

The Lady Panthers ended their season with a 15-5-2 record and a 6-1 record in conference play.