LITTLE ROCK — A free kick from 25 yards out with about eight minutes left to play allowed the[more] Little Rock Christian Academy Lady Warriors to tie the Bryant Lady Hornets, 1-1, on Tuesday night.
The tying goal was the first given up by the Lady Hornets this season in regulation play.
Now 3-1-1, they are set to travel to Fort Smith on Friday where they’ll begin tournament play against Springdale Har-Ber at 7 p.m.
Against Little Rock Christian, the Lady Hornets took an early lead. Bailey Gartrell scored off a cross from Jacie McMahan when the game was only about six minutes old.
“We shot the ball 15 times and Little Rock Christian shot the ball one time,” related Lady Hornets coach Julie Long. “We played well for about the first 15 or 20 minutes then after that we seemed to kind of get satisfied with having a 1-0 lead.
“We didn’t stop trying to score but it almost looked like we did,” she added. “The intensity level kind of dropped. We still possessed the whole time and we took a lot of shots but it looked like we were just satisfied with shooting the ball and we really weren’t trying to score at that point.
“We’ll be focusing on finishing in practice and hopefully we can get it fixed by this weekend,” the coach said.
The Lady Hornets were coming off a runner-up finish in a tournament at Cabot on Saturday when they suffered their first defeat of the season in a match that went to a shootout. The Rogers Lady Mounties prevailed 5-4 on penalty kicks to gain a 1-0 win at the tourney title.
“We possessed, I’d say, 80 or 90 percent of the game, ball in our half,” Long noted. “I think we shot the ball 13 times and they shot the ball once. We couldn’t finish.”
In the tiebreaker, Lexie Balisterri and Rori Whittaker got their PK’s to go. After a miss, so did Shelby Gartrell and Tori Rose. But Rogers made all five of their PKs to win it.
“Overall, I wasn’t upset at all with how we played,” said Long. “At that point, we’d held four teams scoreless and that’s been huge. I’m proud of our defense. They’re playing really well. We just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.”
Bryant got to the finals with a 3-0 win over longtime nemesis, Conway, earlier in the day.
The Lady Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the first with a goal by Whittaker off an assist from Shelby Gartrell. In the second half, Bailey Gartrell added a goal off a feed from Morgan Hawkins then McMahan capped off the scoring with a kick past the keeper off another assist from Shelby Gartrell.
“We played really, really well,” said Long. “We moved the ball really well and I was really pleased with how we played.
“We held Conway to one shot the entire game, so that was good,” added the coach, who noted it was the first time since she’s been coaching at Bryant that the Lady Hornets have been able to claim a win over the Lady Cats.
“Given, they’re not the same team they used to be,” she acknowledged. “But it’s always good to beat Conway.”