Stukenborg gets a hat trick; Hornets hold off late Cabot charge
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 Aaron Shuttleworth
Photos by Kevin Nagle
The Bryant Hornets ended their home schedule on a high note on senior night,[more] beating the Cabot Panthers 3-2 in the last home game of the season Thursday night.
“It was good to get a win on our seniors’ last game at home,” acknowledged Hornets coach Jason Hay. “I thought we played well at times during the game. We got up on Cabot early and let our guard down.Cabot out hustled us in parts of the game and that let them back in it.
“We need to continue to work on playing hard for a full 80 and taking advantage of scoring opportunities every time not just when we feel like it,” he added. “Ben (Stukenborg) had a big night with three goals with some very good assists off free kicks from Reed Evans.”
The win improved the Hornets to 12-10-1 overall and 7-6 in the 7A/6A-Central Conference going into their regular-season finale on Monday at North Little Rock. It was just the second time this season, the Hornets have managed to win back-to-back games. They’ll go for three in a row going into the Class 7A State Tournament on Monday. The State tourney begins next Friday at Cabot.
“We look to finish strong in both JV and varsity games on Monday,” Hay stated.
Thursday’s action started on the Hornets’ side of the ball with the defense being challenged. Forrest Fowler and Bryce Denker both had a save early on in the game for the Hornets, one at 35:42 and the other at 34:12.The Hornets went on the offensive strike at 30:41 when they were awarded a free kick. The ball went sailing to Holden Chavis who headed it to Stukenborg. He changed the direction of the ball and it went to the back of the net giving the Hornets a 1-0 lead.
Reed Evans had a nice shot at 19:38 from 28 yards out. It looked like it was going to go in but at the very last moment the Cabot keeper got just enough of a finger on it to stop it from going in.
Back on the defensive side of the ball, Fowler chased his man down 40 yards, getting to the ball, clearing it out of trouble while keeping it in play, and getting the pressure off Hornet keeper Jace Denker.
At 3:14 Ryan Watson sent a hard shot on the left side of the field to the goal but it glanced off the edge of the pole. With :20 remaining in the first half, the Hornet went on the attack again with Justin Travis taking a free kick from 20 yards out in the dead center of the goal. His shot just missed wide to the right as the final seconds of the half ticked away. The Hornets went into half with a 1-0 lead.
The action picked right back up at the start of the second half. The Hornets went back on the offensive keeping pressure on the Cabot back line and keeper. They went up 2-0 when Stukenborg struck again at 32:55 off a pass from Caleb Garrett, who passed the ball inside the box to his teammate who shot from 5 yards out just getting it past the Cabot keeper.
Just a little over a minute later at 34:41, Stukenborg scored again getting the hat trick, this time from 9 yards away.
At 27:22, Cabot struck and put one into the back of the net from 11 yards away through a jumbled mess inside the box. The score was then 3-1.
At 25:13, Alex Rowlan sent a real pretty crossing shot to Ryan Watson who shot but was blocked. Evans tired at 24:05 from 48 yards away. His shot was so close to going in, but the Panthers’ keeper got just enough of the ball to stop it.
Cabot was awarded a penalty kick at 20:07, but Jace Denker blocked the goal. Cabot charged after it but the Hornets got to it first and cleared it out keeping the score 3-1.
“Jace stopping that PK was a huge save for us,” Hay noted. “That might have been the difference in us winning and having to go to PK’s.”
Denker ended the night with 7 saves.
Alec Salminen had a tremendousness save right at the goal line. If he would not have done his job correctly the Panthers would have put a point on the board.
In addition, Peter Alverio was really giving his guy problems not wanting to give the ball over to Cabot.
The Panthers had a corner kick at 6:46. They took it short then passed it right inside the 6 yard box. A Panther shot and it went in low to the left, making it 3-2.
The Hornets went back on offense and Jess Wolf sent a shot just wide to the right with just minutes remaining on the clock.