Lady Hornets dominance doesn’t carry over to shootout as Central escapes with win

Bryant's Lexie Balisterri is sandwiched between a pair of Little Rock Central players during Monday night's game as head coach Julie Long, left, looks on from the sideline. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)By Rob Patrick

Photos by Kevin Nagle 

The old saying is that defense wins championships but in Arkansas high school soccer today,[more] even great defense only takes you so far.

Erica Selig. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

In 19 games this season, the Bryant Lady Hornets have held the opposition without a goal during regulation play 12 times. Obviously, most of those instances have resulted in victories.

Yes, just most.

On Monday, April 18, for the second time in two weeks, the Lady Hornets shut out a 7A/6A-Central Conference rival, one with whom they’re competing for a conference championship or, at least, the highest possible finish. But, in both instances, the contest went to a shootout, a tiebreaking system of penalty kicks, because Bryant couldn’t find the back of the net either and the Lady Hornets came up on the short end.

On April 7, it was against league-leading Conway in a bitter loss. This time, it was Little Rock Central, which came into the contest tied with Bryant for second place in the conference behind only Conway. Central won the shootout, 4-3, to capture a 1-0 victory at Bryant Stadium.

Katie Moore (5) fends off a Central player. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

It was another gut-wrencher for the Lady Hornets.

“We out-played them in every aspect of the game,” declared Lady Hornets coach Julie Long. “We out-shot them 24 to 2. It was heartbreaking.”

The Lady Hornets fell to 12-7 overall despite giving up just 10 goals during regulation play all season. They are 5-3 in conference play with a pair of long road trips facing them next week. They travel to Van Buren on Monday and to Russellville on Thursday before hosting a make-up game with Mount St. Mary Academy on Friday. Though they defeated Van Buren and Russellville the first time through the conference, a 2-0 loss to Mount St. Mary’s Belles has been a thorn in the side of the Bryant team since it occurred on March 29.

Bryant's McKenzie Adams, left, protects the ball from the attack of a Central player. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

“I told the girls that I would take the blame for this loss,” Long said of Monday’s loss to Central. “There is no reason we should shoot the ball 24 times and not come away with the win. It is my fault for not having them ready to play. We will get prepared the rest of the week by working on finishing, to gear up for our big week next week.”

In the shootout, McKenzie Adams gave the Lady Hornets the upper hand with a goal on the first of five attempts. And when Kaitlyn Miller stopped the Lady Tigers’ first try, it looked like the Lady Hornets might return to the form that, last year, produced several shootout wins. (They are 0 for 4 this year now.)

Erica Selig found the net on the second PK but, this time, Central matched it. Lexie Balisterri pumped in the third goal but then the Lady Tigers’ keeper stopped the next two attempts by London Abernathy and Lauren Reed, respectively. Central didn’t miss after the first one and claimed the victory.Bailey Gartrell, right, takes a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

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