Photos by Rick Nation
Despite playing much of the game in their offensive end, the Bryant Lady Hornets just could not get any of their 17 shots on goal to the mark during regulation play Thursday night in their 7A/6A-Central Conference match with the rival Conway Lady Wampus Cats. But, when the game went to penalty kicks in a shootout, sophomore keeper Brittney Warner came up big and Conway was only able to convert once. On the strength of PKs from Caroline Campbell, Peyton Ramsey and Britney Sahlmann, the Lady Hornets won the shootout and the contest improving to 17-0-1 on the season, 7-0 in conference play and 4-0 against 7A teams in the league with two remaining.
Bryant is vying for the top seed from the league to the Class 7A State Tournament as they bid to repeat as state champions and make their third consecutive trip to the finals. They travel to Van Buren on Tuesday before closing out the season at home against Mount St. Mary Academy on Friday, May 6. A win in either match will clinch the top seed.
The Lady Hornets are currently ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 19 in the country by MaxPreps.com.
Head coach Julie Long, however, says that her team has not yet reached its peak.
“We really haven’t hit our best game yet and I’m working on getting that out of them at the end,” she stated. “We still have a ways to go in a short amount of time. So hopefully we will push to get there.”
Holding Conway without a goal in regulation was, remarkably, the 16th time the Lady Hornets have blanked an opponent this year.
“Our keeper and defense were challenged this week and still remained strong,” Long said, referring to previous shutout wins over Cabot and Pulaski Academy then the shootout on Thursday with Conway. “Warner had two big saves during PKs. So that was a good confidence builder for her. And our defense played well this week.”
Campbell got her PK in to the left side of the goal. Ramsey got her shot through on the bottom right then Sahlmann closed out the victory by drilling the top left corner.
“We possessed the ball all night and we couldn’t get any kind of real attack going,” Long said. “We had a couple solid chances that we didn’t put away but we couldn’t finish tonight.”
In fact, nine of Bryant’s shots came in the box.
“I hope this sparks a little motivation to finish the next two weeks strong,” the coach concluded.
The State tourney begins May 12 at Springdale Har-Ber.