CONWAY — After a rugged 7-1 loss at Russellville, there had to be a little trepidation for the Bryant Hornets soccer team before their next game. That's because they were scheduled to travel to Conway to take on the defending Class 7A State champion Wampus Cats.
But, as it turned out, the Hornets rebounded from the encounter against the Crimson Cyclones and took the defending champs to the limit before absorbing a 2-1 loss.
"A huge improvement over last week at Russellville," declared Hornets coach Jason Hay. "I think this game will boost our confidence going into our last two games with Cabot and North Little Rock before spring break."
After starting the season 5-0, the Hornets are still seeking their first league win as they traverse the gauntlet that is the 7A-Central Conference. They travel to Cabot on Thursday, March 12, then host North Little Rock on Tuesday, March 17 before wrapping up the pre-spring break schedule at Little Rock Central on Thursday, March 19.
Conway managed a 1-0 lead during the first half of Tuesday's contest but, in the final minute of the half, the Wampus Cats managed a second goal. The Hornets got on the board when Alex Rowlan kicked it in off a nice assist from Tim Ezel.
It was a war after that with neither team gaining an advantage.
"With about three minutes left to go, we had a shot that was barely blocked by Conway's keeper," Hay recounted. "It was very close and it looked like the keeper ran over one of our guys to get it but there was no call on it."
The Hornets wound up shutting out the Wampus Cats in the second half.
"Devin Norris (the Hornets' keeper) had seven saves and had two very big ones," Hay noted. "Our flat back four defense held Conway very well. Jace Denker came in to his first varsity start as a freshman at wing and performed well.
"Overall, it was still a loss but it was the hardest and most physical we have played all year," added the coach. "We finally played a full 80 (minutes) and had a chance to beat the defending State champs in the last few minutes."