By Aaron Shuttleworth
LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant Hornets lost their opening game of 7A/6A-Central Conference play Thursday night against[more] the Little Rock Central Tigers 0-1.
The loss might hurt, and it should, but more good can be made from it. The rest of the schedule will be no easier, so for the Hornets to win out (and they could), the problems that have been manifested will need to be mended.
The communication between the players started out strong in the first half. Teammates were talking to one another and communicating. By the middle of the first half, the chattering had stopped and the frustration level was rising. When the team talks on the field and they are in contact with one another, it’s seamless. At the start of the game, the Hornets had the wind that was blowing fairly hard to their backs, while the sun was right in the eyes of the Tigers’ keeper.
Forrest Fowler was pressuring the keeper while getting help from Caleb Garrett and Alex Rowlan.
At 28:45 in the first, Bryce Denker and Fowler were working a double team and got it into the keeper box but there was no pressure behind them to take up the slack and the scoring opportunity fell by the wayside.
Hornets Ben Stukenborg, Kyle Nossaman, and Alec Salminen were able to assist keeper Jace Denker when he was pressured and got into a jam.
With 15:41 in the first, Stukenborg put up a fight and was able to deflect a goal that bounced off the top rail. He played to his full extent every minute he was out there.
Reed Evans was sticking to his man like glue and making the Tigers’ possessions difficult.Bryce Denker had a nice looking header that was stopped by the Central keeper with 3:31 left in the half.
Coming back into the second half, the Hornets knew they needed to loosen up and not play so tense. Coach Jason Hay was substituting every five minutes, so he would always have fresh legs out there.
At 33:50 left in the game, Rowlan was able to feed Bryce Denker on a breakaway but they came up short.
On the next Tiger possession, they drove it down the field and took two hard shots against Jace Denker. Both happened within six seconds of each other from four yards out and both were stopped, the second with the Bryant keeper on his knees.
The only goal of the night happened with 28:42 left. Ninety-nine out of 100 times, Jace Denker could stop a shot like the one that got past. It just happened to be that one that slipped right by. But give credit where credit is due, he had seven saves on the night.
Ryan Watson and Jesse Wolf were constant on keeping the Tigers on their heels. The Hornets had nine shots on goal.
With :17 to go, the Hornets had a chance to tie it but the goal was just out of reach. The Tiger keeper stopped a hard kick from Justin Travis.
The Hornets, now 5-5-1 overall and 0-1 in conference, will get well-needed rest during spring break and try to start on the right foot against a very tough Catholic Rockets team on the Tuesday, March 29.
Mistakes were made, but they were mistakes that can be fixed. There is no doubt that the team will come back smarter and rested and ready to show the 7A/6A Central division that the Hornets are here to make their mark and run the gauntlet.