NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Bryce Denker had a hat trick as the Bryant Hornets soccer team closed out[more] the first half of the 7A/6A-Central Conference round robin schedule in style with a 8-2 romp over the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats on Friday night. It was the Hornets’ fourth win in the last five matches as they improved to 9-3 overall and 4-3 in league play entering their biggest week of the season. They’ll play the top two teams in the league, Little Rock Central at home on Thursday, April 19, and Little Rock Catholic at Burns Park on Friday, April 20.
Along with Denker’s three goals, Chase Stuart, Evan Caddy, Alex Rowlan, Cory Ballew and Justin Travis each had one against North Little Rock before the Sportsmanship Rule was instituted and the Hornets ran out the clock.
“The first 10 minutes, we kind of played kick ball again,” said Hornets coach Jason Hay. “Then we settled in and started moving the ball around and being patient, which has been one of our problems. They’re just wanting to win. They get excited and just get going and going and going.”
Denker had the first goal off an assist from Stuart less than six minutes into the contest. In short order, Stuart got his off a feed from Peter Alverio. Less than four minutes later, Alverio passed to Denker who made it 3-0.
North Little Rock got on the board with 13:22 left in the half but Bryant came right back with Caddy’s goal off an assist by Forrest Fowler to make it 4-1 at the half.
Alverio got his third assist on a goal by Rowlan to start the second half less than two minutes in. North Little Rock answered at 34:04.
Hay, who said he was ready to get his starters out before that goal, subbed completely after Travis fed Denker for his third goal and, in less than a minute, Denker passed to Ballew to make it 7-2.
When Travis scored unassisted, it started the mercy rule.
“We’re tied for third,” Hay noted. “Those next two games will determine a lot about where we go. We still have a good chance at the conference (title) now but it’s up to us. We’ve got to get it done Thursday and Friday. You want to try to get a first or second seed so you get a bye in the playoffs.
“We’re ahead at this point where we were last year,” he added. “I think we were 3-4. We’re 4-3 and we’ve had our chances to be better than that. The last 30 seconds of the Catholic game (a 1-0 loss on March 27) and at Conway the last 35 or 40 seconds when they got that PK (in a 3-2 loss on April 6). So we’ve had our chances but we’ve also had our chance in some of the game we’ve won. We’ve had to come from behind and get it done.
“Hopefully everybody’s head’s right and we can get it going the second half (of the conference season),” he concluded.