For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here
The Bryant Hornets soccer team made its 2019 debut on Friday night and battled to a scoreless tie with the rival Benton Panthers at Bryant Stadium.
“I think it was a case of first-game jitters,” said Hornets coach Richard Friday. “The first 20 minutes, it was a back-and-forth game. They were really physical, bunkered down and really competed well.
“Our boys, I think at times we were trying to get through too direct,” he related, “trying to get from one goal to the other with three passes, which kind of favored them.
“Once we started getting the ball, putting it on the ground and knocking it around a little bit, being a little bit more patient and methodical and getting into the final third, we created more opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize on it.”
But the coach liked a lot of what he saw.
“The energy level was there,” he said. “The commitment was there. The organization was there. The other parts we can work on.”
Friday estimated that the Hornets attempted six shots on goal.
“We had one that was taken away because of offsides,” he mentioned. “We had a couple of others that were decent.
“It was a real stalemate, back and forth, both sides. I don’t think either side really got much going.”
Benton struggled even more to find the goal.
“To be honest, I don’t think our keeper even had to make a save,” he said. “The defense played pretty well. We were organized. They controlled them. (Benton) got to our end a little bit. But we were throwing bodies in front of shots and crosses, making life difficult for them, not giving them any easy opportunities.”
Friday credited junior Carlos Gaytan and seniors Thomas Bullington, Danny Linares and Christopher Fuller for their work on the defensive end.
It was Benton’s second game of the season.
“I think if we had played another game before this one, we would’ve done a little bit better,” Friday said. “There was just so much energy in the first 20 minutes. When we played in our alumni games, we weren’t as direct as we were tonight.
The Hornets will be back in action at 8 p.m., on Friday, March 8, against the Fayetteville Bulldogs as part of a tournament in Hot Springs.