Second half surge lifts Hornets past Heritage in State opener
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
CABOT — Sweet victory.
The Bryant Hornets soccer team turned the[more] tables on the Rogers Heritage War Eagles this year.
In 2010, the Hornets rolled into the Class 7A State Tournament with a red-hot team, seeded third, with designs on a deep run only to have the upstart War Eagles end their season with a 1-0 win.
This year, Bryant again came into the tournament rolling, with three straight wins and another No. 3 seed.
And, sparked by sophomore Chase Stuart and senior Kyle Nossaman, the Hornets advanced this time with a convincing 4-1 win.
Bryant, now 14-10-1 on the season, will take on Springdale, the second seeded team from the 7A-West, today at noon. The winner reaches the semifinals on Monday.
Stuart had a first-half goal and nearly a second on a play that resulted in a goal by Jesse Wolf to answer the Heritage goal in the second half. Nossaman set the tone in a second half in which the Hornets drilled three goals.
The four goals turned out to be the second most in a game this season for Bryant which recorded six against North Little Rock on April 14 but no more than three in any other game.
“They were a team that beat us last year, took us out in the first round and dashed our hopes pretty early when we thought we had a chance to go pretty deep in the tournament,” noted Hornets coach Jason Hay. “Then for them to beat us early in the year in the (Texarkana) tournament. I was worried that our guys might have it in their head that they couldn’t beat them just because we’d lost to them two times in a row.
“We’ve improved quite a bit from then,” he noted. “I knew we were better. I’m glad the kids showed up and proved it.”
Stuart scored the lone goal of the first half.
“I think it was left-footed,” Hay mentioned. “It was pretty nice. He had a really good game.
“They had some close ones but they had a couple of offsides,” the coach said of Heritage. “They actually got one in on a free kick but they were offside.”
Of the second half, Hay said, “We came back out and we just started rolling on them. Nossaman came in. The last few games, he’s been feeling it. He came down the right side of the wing and got one to put us up 2-0.”
It stayed that score until, with around 17 minutes left, the War Eagles found the back of the net.
“It was on a corner that we didn’t quite get cleared,” Hay recounted. “It pinged around for it seemed like forever.”
The Hornets countered with a breakaway by Stuart.
“He took a shot and missed but Wolf crashed the back post like we’re always working on,” Hay said. “That’s something we’ve not done well in the past. But Wolf came in and scored it. That’s where it’s worth that extra effort.”
With about eight minutes to go and Heritage pressing the issue in the offensive end, Stuart and Bryce Denker got a breakaway. Denker got the goal with about six minutes left to set the final score.
Hay was able to get everyone in the game after that.
“Hopefully, we’ll keep that enthusiasm and roll into (the game with Springdale),” Hay commented. “It’ll be a challenge but I think our kids — I told them before the game today, no matter what happens the rest of the year, I’m proud of them. They’ve done a really good job. They’ve worked their butts off and they deserve it.”