Hornets earn first victory
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
Though their shootout woes continued in Saturday’s Bryant Invitational Tournament, the Bryant Hornets soccer team was able to post its first two victories over the weekend including a 4-0 shutout against the rival Benton Panthers on Friday.
On Saturday, in the first regular-season invitational tournament hosted by a school since the Arkansas Activities Association sanctioned the sport, Bryant breezed past Hot Springs 5-0 but lost a pair of heartbreakers against the Hot Springs Lakeside Rams, 2-1 and 1-0.
Still, Bryant head coach Bob Williams was well pleased with the event which he hopes will become even bigger in coming seasons.
“The tournament was super,” Williams stated. “We had a lot of wonderful help from some great volunteering parents, from the administration and everybody over there. They all pitched in. It was great to see we could pull off a good tournament.”
Friday’s home-opening win over Benton was emotional, Williams acknowledged. It was the first meeting between the two schools on the soccer field.
“The guys were tight,” he noted.
But they settled in once Heath Ericson knocked in the first goal about five minutes into the game. Nick Harbert got the assist and Ericson left-footed shot from the left side of the box got in.
Sixteen minutes in Ericson scored again. This time on a cross from Josh Williams.
Ericson got the hat trick 20 minutes in, scoring off a feed from Harbert once again.
Late in the game, the Hornets added a fourth goal. Derek Carnall, a sweeper who had moved to midfield scored from near the penalty spot off an assist from Harbert.
“We got good work from Jesse Jones on the right wing,” Coach Williams said. “And from Matt Caple at right defender. The defense played a good game, kept (Benton) under control and helped (goal keeper) Beau (Hamblen) out.
“All of our midfielders gave us some good play,” added the coach. “We’re working a lot of them around to see which combinations work the best.”
The Hornets got right back onto the field Saturday morning in their first match with Lakeside.
“We were still pretty flat,” Williams related.
Still, the Hornets took a 1-0 lead when Darren Harper controlled a long cross pass from Josh Williams from right to left.
“Darren kicked a long arcing shot into the corner on the right side that was impossible for the goal keeper to get to,” Coach Williams recalled.
And that goal held up until the last minute of the game when Lakeside was awarded a penalty kick and tied it.
The shootout commenced and, as was the case when the Hornets lost at El Dorado earlier this season, Bryant got beat out. This time, it came in the sixth round of the shootout.
El Dorado, incidentally, won the tournament on Saturday.
In the loser’s bracket, the Hornets shut out Hot Springs.
“We were pretty comfortable in that one,” Williams noted.
Freshman Thomas Yun got the scoring started by putting away a rebound off a defender. Josh Williams added the second goal early in the second half off an assist from Yun.
Two minutes later, Williams scored again, this time off a throw-in from Yun.
Ericson got into the scoring later in the half off an assist from Casey Jacuzzi then, near the end of the game, Ericson set up Harbert who left-footed one in from 15 yards out.
That set up a rematch with Lakeside in the loser’s bracket.
“We dominated,” Williams stated. “In the first half, Beau didn’t even touch the ball. We took a lot of shots but Lakeside was in the right place at the right time even on some great shots.”
Regulation play ended in a scoreless tie and, for the third time this season, the Hornets were outgunned in a shootout. Freshmen Anthony Marino and Yun both connected for Bryant goals during the shootout but Lakeside matched them and, five rounds in, got an unanswered goal in to win it.
The Hornets dropped to 2-4 on the season but three of the losses have gone to shootouts. They were set to return to action Tuesday evening when they were to host Camden Fairview. Saturday, they travel to Searcy.