February 27 in Bryant athletic history: 1999

Lady Hornets soccer team wins tourney

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).

The Bryant Lady Hornets soccer team ran their winning streak to four in a row and captured the championship of the first Bryant Invitational Tournament Satur-day by besting the El Dorado Lady Wildcats 5-1.

“It’s been three hard years,” said Lady Hornets coach Drew Bunten regarding the development of the girls soccer program. “So, it meant a lot when (Bryant superintendent) Dr. (Winston) Simpson awarded the girls that first-place plaque. We think we’re in a position to be a conference contender this year.”

Little has happened thus far this season to dispute that, including Saturday’s performance. The Lady Hornets opened the tournament with a 4-0 win over Hot Springs Lakeside in a game in which Ashley Mantooth delivered all four goals.

“Lakeside is a first-year team, but they’ve got some good players,” Bunten mentioned. “Ashley scored her first goal in the first two minutes of the game then the girls kind of slowed down. I think they were a little tired from Friday night’s game.”

The Lady Hornets had beaten the rival Benton Lady Panthers on Friday, 4-1, then had to turn around and hit the field again Saturday morning at 9.

The score stayed 1-0 until halftime.

“We had a good halftime talk,” Bunten said. “Dr. Simpson talked to the girls and encouraged them and he stayed on the sideline with us and talked to the girls during the second half.

“We tightened our defense after halftime and Ashley added three more goals and we won,” Bunten recalled.

The championship game was the second meeting of the season between the Lady Hornets and the Lady Wildcats. On Feb. 19, the Lady Hornets traveled to El Dorado and came away with a 2-1 win on a shootout. Mantooth had recorded Bryant’s only goal in regulation which ended in a 1-1 deadlock. Jessica Simmons and Mantooth scored during the shootout as Bryant extracted the win.

On Saturday, things seemed headed in the same direction in the first half.

“El Dorado was out for revenge,” Bunton acknowledged. “They have become our biggest rival. We played them four times last year and they got the best of us but we’ve both been at about the same level.

“We had another slow start,” added the coach. “Ashley got our first goal and we had several chances. But we shot at the goalie instead of the goal.”

That changed in the second half.

“We had some of the prettiest kicks we’ve had,” Bunten emphasized.

Those included a spectacular tie-breaking goal when Laura Bunten, on a corner kick, set up Mantooth who headed one in.

Later, Laura Bunten drilled one in from 30 or 35 feet out and Amber Wells scored off an assist from Katie Powell.

The Lady Hornets also scored on a free kick.

“We didn’t wait for El Dorado to set up their wall,” Coach Bunten noted. “Laura kicked it in right over the goalie’s head.

“The girls played real smart in the second half,” Coach Bunten mentioned. “They came out determined and played real tough.”

The championship capped off a weekend that also included the Lady Hornets’ first home victory of the season in their first game against Benton on Friday.

“It was exciting to play Benton,” Coach Bunten said. “And I felt the girls came out and played hard.”

Laura Bunten and Amber Wells each had goals and Mantooth kicked in a pair in the 4-1 victory.

The Lady Hornets were set to return to action at home on Tuesday against Hot Springs. Saturday, they travel to Searcy.

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