By Aaron Shuttleworth
LITTLE ROCK — For the first time since the 2000 season, the Bryant Hornets soccer team has won its conference opener, a 1-0 decision over the Little Rock Central Tigers.
But it did not come easy. The Hornets had their work cut out for them all the way to the final horn. The Central Tigers moved with cat-like reflexes but could not get away from the sting of the Hornets in the form of a strong goal early in the second half.[more]
With 31:37 left in the game, Alex Rowlan did battle with two Tiger defenders and came out victorious.
But that is not all it took to come away with the victory. The defenders did a great job under pressure saving the keeper Devon Norris a couple times. Norris racked up eight saves with no goals against him.
Sean Sobba went down early in the game but had teammates come in and step up.
"I was mostly impressed with our hustle tonight," said Coach Jason Hay.
One of the players that stepped up to fill the gap was Ben Stukenborg.
Keeping pressure against the Tigers’ keeper was also an important factor in the win. Freshman Jose Vazquez was in front of the Tigers’ defenders all night. Vazquez has great speed and agility, and is a force out on the field. Alongside him is Carlos Garcia. Hay was able to cycle in new players every four or five minutes, so there were always fresh legs out there. Throughout the night, there were 12 shots on the goal.
At 8 o’clock Friday night, the Hornets, now 3-0 overall, will be given a little taste of what to expect on March 11 as they open up the Northwest Arkansas Invitational against Van Buren, a league rival that they'll take on in a conference game on the road that night.
"Tonight was a measuring stick for what we are, and we'll find out how good Van Buren is," Hay said.
The Hornets will be taking a little break from conference play but Coach Hay is not worried about keeping up the intensity.
"I don't think intensity is a problem with these guys,” he stated. “They know what I expect and they know what to expect of themselves. These guys are hungry to win, and we haven't been to the playoffs in a long time. I think that says a lot."