Friday, April 22, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot soccer tops ’Cats

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot boys’ soccer team took a 1-0 lead into halftime of its 7A/6A-East Conference game against North Little Rock on Tuesday at Charging Wildcat Stadium, and the Panthers put it away in the second half with three more goals to earn the 4-0 shutout victory and stay unbeaten in conference play.

Cabot’s first goal came less than 10 minutes into the match. Abi Brown kicked the ball from about 20 yards out on the right side of the field. The lining ball deflected off of a Charging Wildcat player that was standing about five feet in front of the goal and it bounced by the NLR goalkeeper and into the goal for a 1-0 Cabot lead.

The Panthers (5-5-2, 5-0) maintained possession for the bulk of the first 40 minutes of action and had some other opportunities to score, but couldn’t get another shot into the net. Still, Cabot held a 1-0 lead at the break.

“I thought we actually played reasonably well in the first half,” said Cabot coach Steve Porter. “We created lots of chances. We just couldn’t find the finishing touch – the one-on-one with the goalkeeper, just the final pass that was there. So I thought it was a matter of time, and I was happy to see the (first) two goals (in the second half) go in pretty quickly.”

Cabot pushed its lead to 2-0 on a lining shot from Dylan Wagnon. Wagnon booted the ball from the left hash mark on the 10-yard line and it scorched by the NLR goalkeeper to give the Panthers their two-goal cushion.

“The finish was pretty good,” Porter said of Wagnon’s goal. “Dylan strikes the ball really well.

I think that gives him eight or nine goals on the season. That’s what we expect from him. He is a good player and when you give him a little bit of time and space to line up the shot he can strike the ball really well.”

Wagnon’s high-velocity boot came with 24:59 to play, and just over a minute later, the Panthers scored again. This one came off the foot of freshman Cameron Sherman. Wagnon earned the assist on the play. He made a pass up field to Sherman, who broke away from the defense.

The NLR goalie ran out to try and stop the play, but just before he could get there, Sherman kicked the ball up and over the goalie’s head and the ball then bounced into the middle of the goal for a 3-0 Panther lead with 23:41 remaining.

North Little Rock (3-5-2, 1-4) didn’t threaten much the rest of the way, and the final score was set on a Somma Quiroa Rodas goal with 6:15 to go.

The win keeps Cabot’s conference championship hopes intact. It was also the first conference match of the season between 7A teams, giving the Panthers a head start at competing for a No. 1 state tournament seed.

“As far as playoff seeding it matters,” Porter said of Tuesday’s win, “but the 6A games count towards a conference title, which is obviously something we would like to try and achieve. So we’re in a good position right now. The big challenge will be Friday against Central. If we can do that and go to 6-0 then things look good.”

Last night’s match against Central started after deadlines. Look for scores of that match in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.