Friday, April 17, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers knock off Hurricane

Leader sportswriter

Cabot’s soccer teams both won their 7A/6A-East Conference games against Jonesboro on Thursday at Panther Stadium. The Lady Panthers dominated their game against Jonesboro en route to a 7-0 victory, while the Panthers held off a late Hurricane rally to win 3-2.

In the girls’ game, Cabot scored six of its seven goals in the first 40 minutes of play, and added their final goal within the last 20 minutes. Leelee Denton scored the first two goals of the game to give the Lady Panthers a 2-0 lead.

She scored her first goal nearly 17minutes into the game, and her second came at the 20:17 mark of the opening half. Tristyn Edgar scored the next two goals for Cabot. Her first came with 19:39 left in the half, and the second was with 9:03 remaining. That gave Cabot a 4-0 cushion.

With 6:03 to play in the first half, the Lady Panthers took a 5-0 lead on a goal by Braxton Reed from about 13 yards out. That goal was set up by a stellar pass from Edgar, who earned the assist.

Edgar earned another assist on the final goal of the half, which was scored by Maddie Rice from 15 yards out with 2:48 remaining.

Since the Lady Panthers led 6-0 at the start of the second half, the clock was reduced from 40 minutes to 20 because of the sportsmanship rule, and Cabot added its final goal of the game on a corner kick by Vanessa Weidling near the 15-minute mark.

According to Lady Panthers’ coach Kerry Castillo, it was the kind of game his team needed, considering it’s had trouble scoring throughout the year, primarily because of injuries.

“We’ve really struggled to score goals all year,” said Castillo. “Injuries have hampered us. I think this is our second, maybe third game of the entire season that we’ve had our best 11 players all together.

“Tristyn Edgar, who scored two goals today and assisted on two others, she got injured our very first game of the year. The injury bug got us early on. We’ve dug a couple of wins out and we’ve also dropped a couple and had a couple of ties as a result of missing our goal-scorers, but today was very refreshing. We needed that.”

The boys’ game didn’t go as well as Cabot coach Steve Porter would’ve liked, but the Panthers eked out the win, nonetheless.

It took more than 20 minutes for the first goal to be scored in the physical game, but Cabot got on the board first with a goal by leading scorer Kilian Oelrich from about 12 yards out. That goal came at the 17:57 mark of the first half, and gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Cabot took a 2-0 lead with 13:56 left in the opening half on a goal by Evan Wilson from 11 yards out, but Jonesboro scored the final goal of the half. Salisu Yahaya, Jonesboro’s 6-foot-9 striker, scored with a shot from the left corner with 6:45 left in the half, which set the halftime margin at 2-1 in Cabot’s favor.

The first 20 minutes of the second half, like the first, was scoreless, but Cabot upped its lead to 3-1 near the 19-minute mark on a nice header by Wilson from about seven yards away.

The Hurricanes upped their aggression level down the stretch, and maintained possession for a good portion of the final 10 minutes of play. They scored what ended up being the final goal of the game on a free kick by Sam Harvey from about 12 yards out with 8:21 left to play.

Cabot missed some opportunities to score down the stretch, but so did Jonesboro. Yahaya missed high on a good look near the 7:30 mark, and Cabot goalkeeper Jack Whisker made a diving save right at the two-minute mark, which kept the Panthers’ 3-2 lead intact. That was the last time Jonesboro seriously threatened to score.

Even though his team held on for the win, Porter wasn’t pleased with its overall performance, and said the game shouldn’t have been as close as the score indicated.

“The result was close, yes,” said Porter, “but it shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t them (Jonesboro). It was our inability to finish the clear-cut chances we had created. By the half, we had missed four really good chances.

“It could’ve been 6-0 at the half and a mercy rule, but we did not put those chances away, and when you allow a team to stick around that’s what happens.”

The Panthers (8-1-2, 2-0-2) and Lady Panthers (5-5-2, 3-0-1) resume conference play Tuesday at home against North Little Rock. The girls’ game will begin at 5 p.m., and the boys’ game will follow at 7:15.