Saturday, May 16, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls beat Heritage

Leader sports writer

The Cabot girls’ soccer team’s first-round Class 7A state tournament game against Rogers Heritage was a defensive battle from start to finish Thursday morning at Bryant High School, but Lady Panther sophomore Leelee Denton scored a goal in each half to give Cabot the hard-fought 2-0 shutout win.

The game was scoreless after the first 35 minutes of play. In that time, Cabot had a couple of opportunities to score, but could never capitalize. The last of those missed opportunities was an 11-yard Denton kick from the right corner of the goal that sailed high with 6:37 remaining in the first half.

Denton, though, punched one in shortly after – just over two minutes later. From nearly the same spot she missed from earlier, Denton delivered a high kick that grazed the bottom of the crossbar and landed into the middle of the goal for a 1-0 Lady Panther lead with 4:12 left in the half.

That goal was set up by a nice pass from midfield off the foot of senior teammate Melody Sampson. Not only did Denton’s goal give the Lady Panthers the lead, but it took some of the pressure off of them and, in turn, allowed them to settle down and play more focused throughout the second half, according to CHS coach Kerry Castillo.

“They played a bit timid in the first half,” said Castillo of his team. “They were very nervous and you could see that in the way that they played. I could see it on their faces. In the second half, they played so much better.

“I think then (after Denton’s first goal), they probably saw the opportunities that were there for us. It just produced a lot more opportunities for us in the second half.”

Heritage had a couple of decent looks on the offensive end within the first 10 minutes of the second half, but Cabot goalkeeper Riley Patterson thwarted those opportunities with some nice saves.

The score remained 1-0 until Denton sealed the game in the Lady Panthers’ favor with a goal from about 20 yards out in the middle of the field with 6:46 left to play. That second goal from Denton gave Cabot its 2-0 lead.

“She’s such a calm player on the ball,” Castillo said of Denton. “She doesn’t get nervous even when someone’s pressuring her.”

Freshman Tristyn Edgar earned the assist on Denton’s second goal.

Heritage, the No. 6 West seed, did its best to score in the final six minutes of play, but every War Eagle scoring threat was thwarted by Patterson and the Lady Panthers’ defense.

With the win, the Lady Panthers, the No. 2 East seed, advanced to the quarterfinals where they lost to No. 1 West seed Bentonville by the final score of 4-0 on Friday in Bryant.

Friday’s game was the last for CHS seniors Sydney Farquharson, Braxton Reed, Sampson, Kimberley Hogan, Patterson and Vanessa Weidling, and gives the Lady Panthers a 9-8-2 overall record to finish the season.