Saturday, May 07, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> LR Central upsets Cabot girls’ soccer

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot girls’ soccer team suffered its first loss in 7A/6A-East Conference play in an overtime shootout Tuesday at Quigley-Cox Stadium, losing 2-1 to Little Rock Central, who made all five of its penalty kicks in the shootout to come away with the upset victory.

Even though the Lady Panthers maintained possession for the bulk of the first half, Central (11-4, 8-3) scored the game’s first goal with 2:36 left in the half and took a 1-0 lead into halftime. Cabot (17-4, 8-1) scored the game-tying goal less than four minutes into the second half.

With 36:04 to play, Tristyn Edgar connected with teammate Hadley Dickinson, and Dickinson put the ball into the right corner of the goal from nine yards out, tying the game at 1-1.

Both teams threatened to score as the game progressed, but couldn’t get the go-ahead goal before regulation ended. Cabot nearly scored what would’ve been the game-winning goal with just seconds to play.

On that play, Edgar had a promising shot at the goal and took her shot, but a Central defender stepped into the path of the kick and the ball deflected off that player and went out of bounds and into the side of the net, outside the goal.

With the final seconds ticking away, Cabot had to rush the corner kick that followed, and time expired with the score tied 1-1. In the PK shootout, both teams scored on their first three attempts. Dickinson, Gracen Turner and Edgar made the Lady Panthers’ first three kicks.

Amy Schexnayder scored the fourth goal for the Lady Tigers. Maddie Rice was next up for Cabot, but her shot was blocked by Central goalie Riley Chafin, giving the Lady Tigers a 4-3 lead in the shootout. The Lady Tigers added their fifth goal on the next attempt, giving them the upset victory.

Cabot beat Central 3-1 in their first meeting last month at Panther Stadium. CHS head coach Kerry Castillo said the biggest difference in those two games were that his team took breaks on the field and played lackadaisically at critical times in Tuesday’s game.

“We took breaks in this game,” said Castillo. “We took breaks. We got lackadaisical, we stopped pressuring hard. The work rate wasn’t good enough.”

The Lady Panthers entered Tuesday’s game with a 7-0 record in conference play and the majority of those wins were lopsided.

“I think we came into the game confident, and that’s all fine,” Castillo said. “For the majority of the first half we played in their half (of the field) and we were attacking the goal, and with three minutes left, we got lackadaisical. They score a goal because we’re not working very hard, and it totally changes the game. Now all of a sudden they’re in the game and we’re coming from behind.”

Despite the loss, the Lady Panthers are still in line to win the conference championship and enter the upcoming Class 7A state tournament as the No. 1 seed from the 7A-East, but they needed to win last night’s regular-season finale at home against North Little Rock – a team they beat 5-0 last month in NLR.

“I like the lesson of the game for the kids,” Castillo said of the loss to Central, “and I like that our goalkeeper (Maggie Martin) had to see some penalties (penalty kicks). I don’t like that we let off of the gas. Not to say that Central’s not a good team. They’re a good team, but when you’re in complete control of the game you can’t let off.

“If it’s a dead-even game – if we’re playing a Bentonville or a Bryant and it’s a 0-0 game, there’s no time for a break. A break is to be had on the sideline, not in a game. For us it’s a letdown because we could’ve won the conference here tonight, so that is a disappointment. But it’s still within reach and I think they’ll learn a lot from this tonight. We’ll take our lumps, learn from it and move forward.”

The boys’ game also ended with Little Rock Central getting the win. The Tigers won that game by the final score of 4-1. The Panthers scored the game’s first goal less than eight minutes in. That goal was scored from 18 yards out by Somma Quiroa Rodas, and was set up by an Abi Brown corner kick that the Tigers failed to clear. Unfortunately for Cabot, it was all Central after that.

The Tigers scored the game-tying goal just over a minute later, and added two more before halftime to lead 3-1. Central’s final goal of the game was scored with 32:23 left to play in the second half.

Tuesday’s win completes the season sweep over the Panthers, which means Cabot (7-7-2, 7-2) will enter the Class 7A state tournament as the No. 2 East seed. Central (10-5-1, 9-1) is the No. 1 East seed and conference champion.