By Chris Morgan
As the night kicked off, the Bryant Hornets had yet another slow start, giving up a shot in the first 30 seconds. But that would be one of the only opportunities the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats would have as the Hornets took control of the game on the way to a 7-0 win.
“The speed of play was cleaner but still not fast enough,” Bryant head coach Richard Friday said. “This is not going to be your redemption game after losing against Cabot, this game you’re expected to win.”
Offsides appeared to be an issue early for the Hornets producing two in the first seven minutes. This trend would not continue, however, as the team only had four in the rest of the first half.
At 29:17, the Hornets had their first chance to score as a Dawson Oakley penalty kick was saved and rebounded by striker Martin Ramirez who shot the ball just high over the cross bar.
The duo would combine once again two minutes later, when Rameriez found an opening in the North Little Rock defense creating a long run with the ball. Ramirez’s shot would be saved but Oakley would be able to follow up, putting the ball in the back of the net to give the Hornets a 1-0 lead.
At the 26:04 mark, the North Little Rock defense misplayed a kick, giving the ball away to Ricky Barrientos. With an open shot on goal Barrientos scored off the Cats’ mistake.
Barrientos was given a second chance to score after taking the ball up the left side of the field and taking a cross-the-box shot into the lower right corner, which was saved by the fingertips of the North Little Rock keeper.
The night was big for Jhorman Cruz as he rolled, picking up a hat trick as well as getting an assist.
With 22:14 left in the half, Cruz pushed up the left side taking a clean cross right into the foot of Alberto Rodarte who put the ball in the back of the net.
With a three-goal cushion, the Hornets were able to relax, ending the half without allowing a goal.
The second half started strong as Cruz found himself left one-on-one with the keeper but was just beat after waiting to pull the trigger on a shot.
Cruz would find his first goal off a corner kick, taken by Oakley with 31:01 left in the match. The cross was tapped in over the head of the North Little Rock keeper.
With 27:46 left to play, the Hornets were awarded a free kick on the left side of the Cats’ 18-yard box. The cross came in and, amid a large huddle, multiple players jumped for it. It wound up in the back of the North Little Rock net.
Cruz’s last two goals would be almost identical, first with 24:11 left to play, taking a shot into the top right corner, giving the keeper no chance to save the ball.
The third of Cruz’s goals would be with 11:16 left as he again went to right easily beating the keeper and giving the Hornets the 7-0 lead, which they would finish up the game with.
“Once they picked up the intensity they were into the game,” Friday said. “But we have to figure out how to get into the game before the game.”
Now 7-3-3 overall, the Hornets, 4-2 in the 7A-Central Conference, take the trip Tuesday, April 10, to Conway.