Long pleased with Lady Hornets’ improvement against Lady Bruins

Challenged in the first half by the Pulaski Academy Lady Bruins, the Bryant Lady Hornets[more] stepped it up a notch in the second half of their match at Bryant Stadium Monday and scored three times to forge a 4-0 win in a game that was added to the schedule after the April 18 match with Searcy was rained out.

It was Bryant’s 13th shutout of the season as part of a 16-2-1 season so far.

The Lady Hornets finish out the regular season with two final South Conference contests this week. They were set to travel to Lake Hamilton today then host El Dorado on Friday.

"We got better tonight and I told the girls it was the first time in a long time I felt like we got better,” stated Bryant coach Julie Long. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to play like this and get where we need to be for the State Tournament.”

The Class 7A State tourney begins May 9 at Cabot. The Lady Hornets, 8-0, in league play are vying for a first-round bye (as one of the top two seeds from the West Conference), which would mean they’d open play at the tourney on Friday, May 10.

Monday’s game was 1-0 at the half by virtue of Shelby Gartrell’s goal off an assist by Lexie Balisterri. The game was 28 minutes old before the goal was scored.

“Overall I was very pleased with how the girls played,” Long said. “They all played really, really well. The first half, it took a while to get adjusted to the quicker play. PA’s a good team. They came out and got all over us first half. It kind of took a second for the girls to adjust to it.

“But once we did, the second half, we played really, really well,” she continued. “I thought our defense played very well. I had a freshman that stepped in to play — we have a couple of injuries and some sick — and Britney Sahlmann played very, very well. Tori (Rose) played well and Kaitlin (Gaiser) played well.

“Honestly, all over the field, I felt like we controlled the game,” the coach stated. “It was just a nice change of pace.”

Bryant added to its lead with 18:47 left to play. Anna Lowery netted a shot off a feed from Morgan Hawkins. The Lady Hornets then took complete control of the game in the final 10 minutes. With about seven minutes to go, Kendall Selig scored with Bailey Gartrell getting the assist. Balisterri then capped off the scoring off an assist by Jacie McMahan with around three minutes left.

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