FORT SMITH — For 70 of the 80 minutes that the Bryant Hornets and Rogers Mounties battled[more] in the first round of the Class 7A State soccer tournament on Thursday, May 10, neither could score.
“We had chances,” acknowledged Hornets coach Jason Hay. “It was really hot. We were subbing quite a bit. I think we were starting to wear them down a little bit. We had several shots, shots we’ve been making, we just couldn’t get it to go in.”
But, at about that 10-minute mark in the second half, Rogers did.
“It was off a deflection, a rebound that came back,” the coach recalled.
And that proved to be the difference as the Mountaineers ended the Hornets’ season, 1-0.
“I don’t think we played as good as we could have the first half,” Hay commented. “We looked a little lethargic but that’s to be expected after the bus ride. The second half, we really picked it up, started putting the pressure on them.”
Bryant finished the season 14-6 overall. The Hornets had contended for the 7A/6A-Central Conference championship until the last week, finishing with a flurry of seven games in 12 days including a final match just a couple of days before the tourney started. That late schedule — a result of a pair of rainouts — probably had an affect on the team as well.
The Hornets wound up a fourth seed at State resulting in the battle with Rogers in the first match of the tournament.
“I was proud of our effort,” Hay said, “especially in the second half. They played hard. The kids gave everything they had and I know they’re disappointed just like I am that it ended like it did.
“But I still thought it was a good season,” he asserted. “We had high expectations to start with and to be 14-6 is quite an accomplishment considering where these (seniors) started four years ago. Last year, our record was 14-11-1 and we won the same amount of games while playing five or six fewer games. I think we tied our best conference record we’ve had in a while at 9-5 and we were in the hunt to win the conference at the end. That’s all you can ask for.”