CABOT — The Bryant Hornets got clutch plays from both of their goal-keepers in a shootout with the Cabot Panthers on Friday night. One was in goal and the other wasn’t.
Victor Rodarte blocked the fifth penalty kick by the Panthers with the shootout even at 4-4 then Jace Denker, moved out recently from in goal, drilled the game-winner on Bryant’s subsequent penalty kick to give the Hornets a 5-4 edge in the overtime which produced a 2-1 win.
It was a welcome victory for the Hornets who had dropped back-to-back matches with teams they’ve been fighting with for hit seeding to the Class 7A State Tournament. Now 13-5 overall and 8-5 in league play, the Hornets close out the regular season with a conference contest at home against North Little Rock on Monday. With some help, the Hornets could still tie for second in the conference and, through the tiebreakers, garner the second seed from the league to State and the first-round bye that goes with it.
Going into Friday’s action, the Hornets trailed Little Rock Central and Conway by a game in the fight for second behind conference leader Little Rock Catholic.
In fact, it may have been their marathon match with the first-place Rockets that helped provide the confidence and impetus for Friday’s win. The Hornets took Catholic to PK’s then extended the Rockets through 6-6 before the decisive shot.
Against Cabot, the Hornets broke a 0-0 deadlock early in the second half on a goal by Blake Reed.
And it looked like that might hold up for the win until in the final two minutes, Cabot pushed everyone up for a full-team attack on the Bryant goal.
“The ball bounced around forever,” noted Hornets coach Jason Hay.
With 1:08 left to play, however, the Panthers got a goal to knot it up.
In the shootout, Forrest Fowler, Bryce Denker, Alex Rowlan and Jesse Wolf got their PK’s to go but Catholic matched each of them. On Cabot’s fifth shot, Rodarte made the save. And, in turn, Jace Denker booted the game-winner.