Photos by Kevin Nagle
The Bryant Hornets knew that coming into Thursday’s game, there could be no[more] mistakes if they wanted to pull off a win. They had a lot to prove against the Conway Wampus Cats, and that’s just what they did to get the 1-0 win.
And they did it short-handed.
“We had two starters out with injuries and three guys who got sick during the game and had to come out,” mentioned Bryant head coach Jason Hay. “We had some JV guys step in to help and some varsity guys who played with little or no rest. The boys dealt with it all in stride and got it done.
“I thought we played well,” he added. “We kept the ball in Conway’s side most of the night.”
Hay expects everyone back when the Hornets head to Cabot on Tuesday, April 12.
The Bryant JV won 1-0 too. Chase Stuart had the only goal of the game off an assist from Josh Lowery.
In the varsity match, Conway came right out firing on all cylinders. At 34:09, Bryant keeper Jace Denker had a save that he hit away. Conway shot right back and, this time, Justin Travis was able to save it by jumping in the way and hitting it off his chest.
Denker ended the night with only three saves. Conway just could not get a shot off because of the way the Hornet midfield was playing. Cameron Furton, Alec Salminen and Reed Evans were taking all the stress from their keeper and clearing the ball when it got into Bryant territory.
The lone goal of the night came from Alex Rowlan at 27:55 in the first half off of a 40-yard shot that soared over the head of the Wampus Cat keeper.
At 21:51, Ben Stukenborg went on the attack along with Jesse Wolf. Stukenborg passed the ball to Wolf, who then crossed it over to the middle. But no one was there to send it home.
Conway came back and had a free kick, but Evans headed it inside the keeper box to safety. It was then the Hornets’ turn to try to capitalize from a free kick. Travis sent it to Wolf but the shot ended up being saved.
Chase Stuart sent a at 7:04 that went just wide right of the goal. On the ensuing kick from the keeper, Stukenborg sent it right back but the keeper was able to save it. Just like he does every game, Stukenborg challenges the keeper, just waiting for the opportunity to strike.
At the start of the second half, Rowlan almost had another goal. A Conway defender tried to clear it out of danger but, while doing that, he kicked it right into the back of Rowlan and the ball just went to the left over the bar.
At 24:14, Wolf passed the ball to Bryce Denker who then took the shot 13 yards away but was stopped by the Wampus Cat keeper. At the 20:09, the Hornets had a corner kick that Bryce Denker took. He sent it to Rowlan who shot but it was headed out by a Conway defender.
Peter Alverio broke free and, with his speed, got in front of the back line of Conway and sent a hard shot just over the top rail with 14:52 left in the game.
Conway went right back on the attack and shot but Caleb Garrett was there to send it back to midfield out of danger of the Hornet goal.
Stukenborg shot again at 8:34 but it went wide left. At 7:39, Bryant had a corner kick that was shot by Travis. It almost got in by itself but was hit out of bounds by the Conway keeper. That resulted in another cornet shot.
In the midst of the onslaught of shots, a red card was issued to a Conway player and Bryant received a yellow. So with 5:30 left in the game, Conway was down a man on the field. But the Cats defended very well and were able to clear it out of danger.
The last offensive charge came from Alverio as he drove the ball 50 yards and then passed in behind him.