Friday, March 18, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers dominate Lions

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panther soccer teams earned a boys and girls sweep of perennial powerhouse Searcy on Thursday at SHS.

It was the second time in less than a week the teams had met. Cabot teams also beat Searcy in Cabot’s short-game tournament on March 12, but Thursday’s matches counted in conference standings and Cabot dominated.

The Lady Panthers hammered the Lady Lions 5-1, while the boys scored the game’s first three goals in a 3-1 victory.

Despite the lopsided final score, Cabot girls’ coach Kerry Castillo appeared frustrated most of the game.

“Just because we’re not playing to our potential,” said Castillo. “I thought we played much better in the second half. We made much better decisions with the ball, even though we scored fewer goals.”

The Lady Panthers (9-1, 1-0) took a 3-1 lead into halftime, despite taking far fewer shots than the home team. Most of the first half was played on Searcy’s end of the field. Cabot held Searcy scoreless last Saturday in a 1-0 game, and the Lady Lions came out Thursday going all in on offense. But when the goals didn’t come, it left openings for Cabot to create quick scoring opportunities.

Searcy (4-2, 0-1) got a clear shot from the middle of the field about 15 yards out, but it careened off the top bar of the goal. Cabot cleared on the rebound, and Tristyn Edgar found herself with the ball behind the entire Searcy defense.

She scored easily in the one-on-one situation against the Lion goalie and gave Cabot a 1-0 lead six minutes into the game. It was the first of four goals for Edgar, who had a hat trick by halftime.

“They were bringing everyone up to force the issue on offense,” Castillo said. “That left things open for us. Tristyn is so fast they couldn’t recover, and she’s going to win that one-on-one nine times out of 10 at least.”

Searcy tied the score on a penalty kick with 19:02 left in the half.

Edgar beat Searcy back again less than two minutes later but was called off sides. A minute later Gracen Turner missed a shot wide left.

With 9:20 to go in the first half, Edgar took a pass from Hadley Dickinson, split two defenders and dribbled past a third before scoring her second goal.

With three minutes left in the half, Cabot goalie Maggie Martin made a diving save to keep the Lions from tying the game, and Edgar got behind the defense one more time with 36 seconds left in the half. She again beat the goalie easily to complete the hat trick and give the Lady Panthers a 3-1 lead.

No one scored for nearly 30 minutes of the second half. Dickinson finally broke the drought with a hard shot from 20 yards out right into the middle of the goal for a 4-1 Cabot lead. Dickinson also got another assists in delivering a perfect pass to Edgar to set up her fourth and final goal with 3:25 remaining to set the final margin.

The boys’ game was scoreless until nine minutes left in the first half. Cabot (2-4-2, 1-0) got a great opportunity with 10:30 to go, but Dylan Wagnon’s shot caromed off the cross bar. Just 88 seconds later, however, Abi Brown scored from a harsh angle on the left side of the goal, squeezing the ball into the upper right corner for a 1-0 Cabot lead with 9:02 left in the first half.

That was the only goal of the first half, but it didn’t take Cabot long to add to the lead in the second. Wagnon scorched a shot hard enough from about 25 yards out that went in despite hitting the Searcy goalie’s forearms.

The Panthers made it 3-0 with 13:55 to go on a mistake by the Lions. Searcy was only trying to clear after a Cabot threat, but cleared the wrong way, hitting an approaching Cameron Sherman in the legs and caroming into the goal.

“Searcy has won like six state championships, but they’re down this year,” said Cabot coach Steve Porter. “That was just a simple mistake. He tried to clear inside and you can’t do that. So that was just a lucky goal for us, but overall I think we played a good game.”

Searcy (2-4, 0-1) scored with six minutes remaining after Porter began freely substituting.