SPRINGDALE — The Bryant Hornets scored first but the Har-Ber Wildcats of Springdale reeled off three unanswered goals, two in the second half to extract a 3-1 win in the first round of the Class 7A tournament at Springdale High School on Thursday.
The result ended the season for the young Hornets team. Har-Ber advances to play East Conference top seed Little Rock Central on Friday.
“James Lasley had an awesome shot, just amazing, off the right side,” related Hornets coach Jason Hay, who was leading the team for the last time before returning full time to his position as assistant principal at Bethel Middle School.
“Late in the first half, they got a PK (penalty kick) that was questionable but Jon Sohn stopped it,” he said.
But, before the half was out, the Wildcats got that tying goal. It came off a deflection by a Bryant defenders.
“It was an accident,” Hay said.
The score remained 1-1 at the half as the two teams continued to battle.
“In the second half, they got another PK and it was legit. We fouled him,” Hay recounted. “You can’t ask a keeper to save two. To save one is a miracle.”
The Wildcats held their 2-1 lead until late in the game when they put a clincher on the board on a header off a corner kick.
“It was just a good shot,” Hay said.
“I thought we played really well,” he added. “Har-Ber’s a really good team. Jon Sohn had the game of his life. He had 17 saves. He played lights out.
“I thought Jhorman (Cruz) had about as good a game as he’s played too,” the coach mentioned. “We had a lot of positives.”
The game marked the end of the high school careers of Krishna Gurung, Davis Toler, Victor Fuentes, Danny Vivar and Nathan Sanchez.
“We knew this season, coming in, we were going to be young,” Hay said. “But that’s never an excuse for anything. Har-Ber looked like giants compared to us. We didn’t back down. Our kids played hard.
“There’s a bright future for these guys,” he continued. “The seniors went out and I think they’d be proud of what they’ve done this year. We had some freshmen starting and a lot of sophomores. You hate to have to do that but, in the long run, that’s good for the program. So I feel good about what we did this year. Even though we had a small group of seniors, I thought they showed tremendous leadership. I was proud of them.”
Regarding his own departure for the head coaching post, Hay added, “I feel good about leaving the program in a lot better shape than we found it.”