Photos by Rick Nation
The Bryant Lady Hornets may have only won their final regular-season game against the[more] North Little Rock Lady Cats, 2-1, on Tuesday night but there’s a clearer indication of how the game went. Bryant attempted 26 shots on goal. North Little Rock attempted two.
On Senior Night when London Abernathy, Lyndsey Brazil, Maggie Hart, Kaitlyn Miller, Katie Moore and Lauren Reed were honored, the Lady Hornets completed a 17-5 regular season, going 11-3 in the 7A/6A-Central Conference. They’ll begin play in the Class 7A State Tournament at Fort Smith on Friday at noon. As the second place team, they’ve earned a bye to the quarterfinals at State. Their first opponent will be determined on Thursday when Fayetteville, the No. 3 seed from the West plays the sixth seeded team from the Central, either North Little Rock or Little Rock Central.
The 17 wins matches the program’s highest total, set in each of the previous two seasons, adding to the legacy of the senior group which has now accumulated 63 wins in four years.
“It was a good Senior Night,” said Lady Hornets head coach Julie Long. “It was an emotional night. These seniors have helped get this program where it’s at right now. They’re a very special group of seniors. We kind of treated it as a celebration night for them more than anything."
Bryant took the lead in the first half when Lexie Ballisterri knocked one past the keeper off a feed from Moore. In the second half, North Little Rock got on the board in the early going but Moore hit a penalty kick to snap the tie.
“She had a one-v-one and she got by her and the keeper just took her out inside the box,” Long explained.
“Actually, we played really, really well until we shot the ball," she commented. "When we shot the ball, it was just not good. We moved the ball up and down the field very well. We played well. We could not get anything to fall.
“They scored off a ball that bounced around a few times in the middle,” she recounted. “Miller kind of slipped and it got past her. Somebody crossed it and we didn’t get a good clear on it, so it bounced around. It was right in front of the goal."
The Lady Hornets were without one of their leading scorers, junior Shelby Gartrell, who is out with an injury.
“I am probably going to make a few minor adjustments to our lineup before State to get some things done,” Long mentioned. “I think Shelby’s going to be out for a while. I think we’ll be okay with the adjustments but we’re going to have to work on it the next couple of days and see if we can get it ironed out. I think we’ll be okay.