By Aaron Shuttleworth
Thursday night’s 6-0 win over the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats showed how[more] disciplined the starting lineup is and how the depth of the Bryant Hornets roster is on par with the starters.
The win improved the Hornets to 8-8-1 overall this season and 3-4 through the first half of the 7A/6A-Central Conference double round-robin schedule. They begin the second half on Monday, April 18, at home against Little Rock Central which was knocked out of a share of first place in the conference in a shootout loss to Little Rock Catholic Thursday night.
North Little Rock is still seeking its first league win.
“We knew going into the game that North Little Rock was down this year,” acknowledged Hornets coach Jason Hay. “Playing a team that has nothing to lose can be scary. You never know what they will do and how your team will react to things.
“It took us about five minutes to settle in and start to play and then the goals started to come quick,” he added. “We got to score a lot of goals and get everyone some playing time. It was a great way to end the first round of conference play.”
The Bryant JV also won, 5-0, to stay unbeaten for the season.
The first half of the varsity game was all offense. Keeper Jace Denker only had one save. When the ball did get down in his area the back line and midfield were there to clean up the mess.
On the other side of the ball, the Hornets came out strong quickly and were able to make North Little Rock play on their heels. The first goal came at 31:55 when Holden Chavis scored on a header from a corner kick by Bryce Denker. The second goal came off another assist from Bryce Denker, this time on a throw in to Chase Stuart who shot 15 yards away and got it into the middle of the net.
At 22:17, Bryce Denker was almost on the other side of a goal. This time being assisted by Alex Rowlan who broke free and passed to Bryce inside the box. Right at the edge of the goal, he had a sliding kick that went just wide to the left.
Goal number three came at 20:29 of the first half by Justin Travis from 30 yards assisted by Stuart. Ben Stukenborg was close to scoring at 15:40 when he took the ball 40 yards and shot, but the ball went just wide left.
The onslaught of goals kept coming. At 8:27, Forrest Fowler make his presence known by taking the ball 62 yards by himself, just weaving in and out of North Little Rock players. He shot from 7 yards out and scored.
Bryce Denker took a corner kick that sailed to Alex Rowlan who tried to head it in but missed. Stukenborg was there for cleanup and headed it in at 7:17 for the fifth goal of the night.
He struck again 17 seconds later making it 6-0.
And all of this came in the first half.
At the start of the second half, the time was cut down from 40 minutes to 20 as part of the sportsmanship rule. Jace Denker was replaced by Victor Rodarte and some of the starters were able to just watch the game. Rodarte held strong not allowing any goals. He ended the night with three saves.
During the second half, the midfield and defenders got their time to shine. Michale Ma and Cameron Furton were keeping pressure off Rodarte while Kyle Nossaman and Caleb Garrett when on the attack trying to make their mark in the books.
The North Little Rock keeper got replaced with 9:18 left in the game. Twelve shots were taken against both keepers.
With the final seconds ticking down, the Charging Wildcats tried one last time to get a point on the board from a short corner kick. The Hornets were deep in the box and seeing that North Little Rock took it short made the defenders come out to them. But when the Charging Wildcats took their last shot, Rodarte was able to keep the score 6-0 by diving to the left and saving it at the corner post.
Tuesday, the Hornets will try to avenge their first conference loss against the Central Tigers.