Friday, April 03, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills earns sweep against Devils

Leader sportswriter

The Sylvan Hills boys’ and girls’ soccer teams each won their 5A-Central Conference games against Jacksonville on Tuesday at Bill Blackwood Field in Sherwood.

The Lady Bears scored all of their goals in the first half of their game en route to a dominant 7-0 victory, and in the nightcap, the Bears scored three goals in each half to win by the convincing final score of 6-1.

Sylvan Hills’ girls (5-1, 3-0) scored three quick goals to start their game against the Lady Red Devils (0-3, 0-2). Georgia Mara, a junior, scored two of those goals and had the assist on the other scored by sophomore teammate Nakiya Smith.

“We started out the game with a bang, which is what you want to do,” said Lady Bears coach Nate Persson. “You want to jump on them early and you can always change things.

“One of our captains, Georgia, she went wild in the first four minutes – two goals and an assist. That’s pretty amazing.”

Junior forward Kristi Henderson added the next goal for the Lady Bears, putting them up 4-0, and with 15:43 left in the opening half, Sylvan Hills took a 5-0 lead on a Madee Sheridan penalty kick from 12 yards out.

The Lady Bears’ next goal came shortly after. With 14:35 left in the half, Cloe Wood scored from about 15 yards out to give the hosts a 6-0 lead. With 5:35 left in the half, Sylvan Hills set the final score on a goal by Emily Conrad from about 7 yards away.

At the start of the second half, the clock was cut from 40 minutes to 20 because of the mercy rule, which cuts the clock time in half when one team’s lead reaches at least six goals in the second half.

In the boys’ game, Jacksonville played without two starters who were red-carded in the Red Devils’ last outing, a 2-0 win at Beebe. The Bears scored the first three goals, and like the Lady Bears, the SH boys jumped out to an early lead to start the game. Sylvan Hills led 3-0 less than 12 minutes into the game.

The Bears scored first on a goal by Gabriel Persson from about 20 yards out. That goal came with 38:14 left in the first half, which was less than two minutes into the game.

At the 31:21 mark, Sylvan Hills (4-2, 3-0) scored again on a short goal by James Waller, which made the score 2-0 Bears. Waller added the Bears’ third goal of the game from about 20 yards out with 28:23 left in the half.

Jacksonville (3-1, 2-1) got its only goal of the night with 22:06 left in the half. From 10 yards away, Gerald Walton scored one in the lower left corner of the net, making it a 3-1 game. That was the score at halftime.

A minute and 29 seconds into the second half, Sylvan Hills took a 4-1 lead on a goal by Justin Espejo, and at the 36:42 mark of the second half, Gabriel Persson added his second goal of the game on a kick from 28 yards out in the middle of the field. That put the Bears up 5-1.

The highlight of the game is also what set the final score. Near the 28-minute mark of the second half, Gabriel Persson kicked a free kick from 44 yards out, near the visitors’ sideline, and as the kick sailed high near the front of the goal, Bears’ teammate Christian Balchen headed it into the net from 5 yards out, making it a 6-1 game.

Although happy with the lead, Bears coach Sam Persson wasn’t entirely pleased with the fast-paced, up-and-down style his team was playing in the first half, but he thought his team did a better job of settling down and playing more to its strengths in the second half.

“I think a lot of what settled them down is we got that early goal,” said Sam Persson, “and there was no pressure anymore. It kind of stopped the Jacksonville pressure on the ball. They started sinking back a little bit more. We had more time and it just got easier.

“That really changes the complexion of the game. It’s a whole lot easier to sit back and see the game rather than (play like) I got to score.”