Friday, March 31, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Brilliant goals lift Panthers’ soccer teams

Leader sports editor

The Cabot soccer teams got a 7A-Central sweep of Conway on Tuesday at Panther Stadium. The Panther boys got their first league win of the season in beating the Wampus Cats 3-1, while the Lady Panthers handled their foes 3-0.

The Cabot boys are an inexperienced team as a whole, but senior Abi Brown played like a veteran on Tuesday. He scored Cabot’s last two goals, and the second one drew praise from head coach Steven Porter.

“It was a really incredible play that not many people can pull off,” said Porter.

Brown put the ball between one defender’s legs before kicking up and over the head of a second defender. He then drilled it into the top right corner of the goal from a hard angle on the left side of the field.

Seth Whitman scored Cabot’s first goal of the match, and Brown later scored on a free kick. The minor upset lifts Cabot to 2-6-1 overall and 1-2 in conference play. Conway dropped to 4-4-2 and 2-1 in the 7A Central.

The Lady Panthers, who are among the elite teams in the state and trying to work their way back to the 7A state championship game, won easily, but did not perform in the first half the way head coach Kerry Castillo thinks they should have.

“We gave them way too much time on the ball,” Castillo said. “We changed tactics a little bit and changed formation. But really we just played with a much better focus. We scored two of our goals in the first half, but they were both just a couple of really brilliant individual plays. I don’t think we were working together very well until the second half.”

Sophomore Gracen Turner scored in the 23rd minute of the first half to open things up for Cabot. She stopped the ball to shed a defender, and placed it perfectly in the top left corner from about 15 yards out.

Nine minutes later, freshman Kiley Dulaney dribbled through traffic on the left side to work her way into an open shot from about 10 yards out that she lobbed over the goalkeeper for the 2-0 Cabot lead.

Even though there was just one goal in the second half, it was a highlight reel play that took two phenomenal individual efforts as well.

Cabot’s two Division I signees, Hadley Dickinson (UCA) and Tristyn Edgar (Tulsa) got together for the exciting play.

Dickinson was deep in the left corner near the corner kick spot, covered by a succession of Conway defenders. She worked her way through each one before placing a perfect pass just in front of the goal where Edgar drilled a header past the diving goalkeeper.

“Even though they had two on her, they kind of played off her,” Castillo said. “If you leave Hadley enough room to beat you, she’s going to beat you. Tristyn had moved wide and they kind of lost her. When she moved back to the middle, nobody picked her up. It was a great header.”

The coach’s praise wasn’t just for the scorers.

“Our back line played really well tonight,” Castillo said. “I think they were trying to get us to come forward with more players, hoping we would commit too many and they could slip behind us. But we played with a much better focus than I think we have the last couple games.”

Both Cabot teams will travel to Bryant on Tuesday.