By Aaron Shuttleworth
Tuesday night, the Bryant Hornets met up with the Central Tigers in a showdown that came down to the wire. The only goal from the battle came with :68 left in the game. But before that goal which gave the Hornets a 1-0 victory, there was plenty of excitement to be found.[more]
Keeper Devon Norris was tested in every way. He was bent, but did not break. Norris ended the night with seven saves not letting anything past him. When he was in trouble, his back line was there to keep his head above water.
Reed Evans and Brandon Parish were a problem for the Tigers forwards for all 80 minutes. Ben Stukenborg and Kyle Nossamon where just as ferocious, swarming to the ball every time it was in their area.
The offense was just as punishing, testing all of the Tigers. At 23:42 in the first, Evans sent a rocket from 25 yards out but it went just over the top rail. At 18:40 in the same half, a goal was taken away from the Hornets when a player was called offsides.
Going into the half, the Hornets were able to get off seven quality shots but none found the back of the net.
Coming into the second half the battle escalated, favoring the Hornets. But they were still unable to connect with a goal. At 16:53 in the second, Chase Stuart broke free, being covered by only one defender, he shot. The ball went low and to the left. At 15:30, Kyle Nossamon was all alone with the Tiger keeper and shot. The keeper stopped it low and in the middle.
At 8:05 left in the game, Stukenborg got free 20 yards out with just the keeper in front of him. The people in the stands were all on their feet. He reared back and shot. The ball bounced off the bottom of the top rail.
After all of this, back and forth, back and forth, it was Sean Sobba’s turn. With 1:08 in the game, Sobba saw his opening. He sent a high pass to Carlos Garcia who leapt up heading the ball, sending it past the Tiger keeper.
Bryant Coach Jason Hay commented, "It was a defensive struggle for both teams. We came out very flat the first half and Central out-hustled us and was more physical. We did come out the second half and play better. We had the ball in Central's defensive half most of the game but could not seem to get a break on a shot.
"I don't think we played the type of soccer that we have played most of the year," he added. "We pride ourselves on being the hardest working and most physical team in our conference and we did not show that against Central. Even though we did not play our usual style, we still came out with a win. I will take an ugly win over a loss any day.
Next, the team, now 8-5 overall and 5-3 in the 7A-Central Conference, travels to play the Little Rock Catholic Rockets. The last time the two teams played the Rockets won 3-0. Thursday, the Hornets will be looking for some retribution.
"We will need to step it up a few notches if we want to have a shot against Catholic," Hay said. "They are first in the conference and have only one loss which was to Conway."