Saturday, May 16, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Central teams lose out to East at state

Leader sportswriter

The Class 5A state soccer tournament began Thursday in Hope, but none of The Leader’s local teams made it to Friday’s second round.

On the boys’ side of the bracket, all three teams from the 5A-Central Conference lost to 5A-East teams. Jacksonville was beaten 3-1 on penalty kicks by East No. 3 seed Nettleton. North Pulaski lost 3-1 in regulation to East No. 2 seed Batesville, and Beebe was beaten 5-1 in regulation by top-seeded Valley View.

Of those three games, the Red Devils played the most competitive game. Jacksonville’s game with Nettleton was tied at 3-3 at the end of regulation, and after two scoreless 10-minute extra periods, the game was decided by PKs, where the Red Devils were outshot 3-1, ending their season.

“We had a long game and both teams were exhausted,” said Jacksonville coach Adam Thrash. “It was the most heat and humidity we’ve played in this year and it really showed. We weren’t used to it, and after 15 minutes into the game you could tell we were tired.

“But our kids played hard. They did everything they could do.”

Jacksonville (12-4) trailed 2-1 at halftime, and Nettleton scored again early in the second half to take a 3-1 lead. Jacksonville’s Brady Delp scored a goal with about 20 minutes left to make it a 3-2 game, and that gave the Red Devils the momentum.

R.J. Moore scored the game-tying goal with about eight minutes left to play, and at the end of regulation, the score was tied at 3-3. Cortez Jordan scored the Red Devils’ first goal of the game on a header.

After two scoreless extra periods, the game was decided by penalty kicks. The Raiders made three of their kicks and Moore made the Red Devils’ lone PK goal to set the final score.

In the North Pulaski boys’ game against Batesville, the Falcons (12-5) scored the game’s first goal.

That goal was scored by sophomore forward Andrew McMaster, but the Pioneers responded with three unanswered goals to close the first half, which also set the final score.

Batesville played more defensive-minded in the second half, but throughout the game, the Pioneers focused their defense on keeping the ball away from NP standout Illajah Carter, often triple- and quadruple-teaming the junior forward.

“They were a very physical team,” said NP coach Donny Lantrip of Batesville. “They were triple-teaming and quadruple-teaming Illajah Carter. They had three or four on him at all times. He did the best he could do. He shook them three or four times, but there was always somebody else there.”

On the girls’ side of the bracket, like the 5A-Central boys, the Central girls lost all of their games to East teams. The North Pulaski girls lost to East No. 3 seed Batesville 2-1 on penalty kicks. Sylvan Hills dropped a 2-1 game to two seed Greene County Tech, and Beebe lost a 9-0 decision to top-seeded Valley View.

The Lady Falcons (9-4) trailed 1-0 in regulation, but a late goal scored by senior forward Ilycia Carter tied the game at 1-1, and eventually sent it to overtime. Neither team scored in the two extra periods, so the game went to PKs, where the Lady Pioneers outshot the Lady Falcons 2-1. Carter made the one PK for NP.

The Lady Bears’ game was a pretty even matchup, but Sylvan Hills (8-8) gave up two goals to GCT, and scored its lone goal late on a trick play that was scored by Nakiya Smith, setting the final score of that game.