LITTLE ROCK — Missed opportunities haunted the Bryant Lady Hornets soccer team Monday night[more] as their 10-game win streak was snapped by the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers, 3-2, at Quigley Stadium.
Bryant trailed 3-1 in the late going when Rori Whittaker broke through for a goal to cut the margin to one.
Before the game concluded, said Bryant coach Julie Long, “I think we had two one-v-ones or more and actually had four other opportunities we just missed.”
It was just Bryant’s second loss of the season. Now 13-2-1 overall, they’re set to host a perennially strong Searcy team on Thursday, April 18 then return to South Conference play on Thursday, April 25, at Sheridan. The Lady Hornets are 6-0 in league action.
“The story of the night was we couldn’t finish,” Long acknowledged. “We out-shot them — I mean, true shots — about 28 to 3. We had 14 one-v-ones with the keeper. I don’t expect 100 percent when they shoot but there has to come a time when we put the ball in the back of the net and we just didn’t do it.”
The contest began in familiar fashion. As has often been the case in Bryant routs, the Lady Hornets scored in the first two minutes. Shelby Gartrell got the goal off an assist from Lexie Balisterri.
But, as it turned out, it wasn’t a typical night.
“(Central) scored probably less than two minutes later,” Long recounted. “We had a big defensive breakdown.”
The Lady Tigers’ second goal came with about a minute left in the first half off a free kick that deflected off one of the Lady Hornet defenders and into the goal. It was 2-1 until about the 10-minute mark of the second half when Central scored its third goal on a penalty kick.
“They played us really hard,” Long said of the Lady Tigers. “They got real physical with us, which was really good. It was what we needed."
The coach expounded, referencing her players, “I truly believe it may be the best thing for them. I know nobody likes to lose but if it’s going to happen, I’d rather it happen now than get to the first day of the (State) tournament and it happening then.
“I wasn’t displeased necessarily with how they played,” she continued. “I thought that we moved the ball pretty well and the girls handled the pressure pretty well. But, like I said, if you don’t get the ball in the back of the net, you’re not going to win.
“We’ve got to work on finishing and tweaking some things on defense. I think we’ll be okay. We’ve just got to bounce back from it. Hopefully they’ll learn something from this and we can move forward.”