By Rob Patrick
VAN BUREN — Consistency is one of the most difficult things for an athlete or a team of them to[more] attain. The fact is, even professionals struggle to achieve it.
It’s been a struggle for the Bryant Hornets soccer team this season too as illustrated by the fact that they’ve only won back-to-back games just once this season.
Monday seemed like a prime opportunity to do that again as the Hornets, fresh from an impressive (and unprecedented for the Bryant program) win over the 7A/6A-Central Conference leading Little Rock Catholic Rockets, traveled to Van Buren. The Pointers came into the game with a 2-8 mark, three games behind the Hornets in the league and struggling mightily to gain a berth in the Class 6A State Tournament.
And it was perhaps that fact that Van Buren was facing a desperate situation, fighting to keep its post-season hopes alive while Bryant came in with a trip to the Class 7A State tourney pretty much in hand, that made the difference as the Pointers won on a shootout of penalty kicks.
“You have to give Van Buren credit,” stated Hornets coach Jason Hay. “They needed this win to give them a chance to get into the playoffs and they came to play.
“The little things and being consistent no matter who we are playing are really keeping us from being a better team,” he added. “You cannot overlook teams in our conference.”
The Hornets are now 10-10-1 overall, 5-6 in conference play with hopes of moving up the standings from their current No. 5 spot with league games still to play at Conway (today), against Cabot on Senior Night on Thursday, May 5, and at North Little Rock on Monday, May 9.
“We are winless on the road in conference,” Hay mentioned. “We hope to change that at Conway.”
Bryant appeared to have the game in hand with a 2-1 lead going into the late stages of play. Ben Stukenborg drilled both Bryant goals in the first half after the Pointers had taken a 1-0 lead.
Van Buren tied the game off a corner kick.
“We didn’t clear out and left a man unmarked,” Hay noted.
Regulation play concluded with the game tied 2-2.
In the shootout, Forrest Fowler hit the first PK for Bryant but Jessie Wolf’s follow-up to Van Buren’s answering goal was stopped by the Pointers’ keeper. Holden Chavis found the range for Bryant and so did Alex Rowlan. But Van Buren continued to match each Bryant success.
A final attempt for the Hornets was taken by freshman Bryce Denker who has already provided the winning PK in two shootout victories, missed the mark as the Pointers prevailed. (Even had Denker been successful, the Pointers would’ve had one more shot at winning.)