Photos by Rick Nation
BENTON — For just the third time since 1997, the Bryant Hornets soccer team is off to a 5-0 start to the season, after[more] whipping the rival Benton Panthers 4-0 on Monday night.
They hope to be the first to go 6-0 when they open 7A/6A-Central Conference play on Thursday at Little Rock Central this Thursday. There will be a JV boys game at 4 with the varsity boys tangling at 5 with the varsity girls to follow at 7.
The Hornets’ JV won 3-0 at Benton on Monday in their first match of the season.
“We had a good non-conference run,” acknowledged Hornets coach Jason Hay. “Now it’s time to get ready for conference. There are no easy games in the 7A-Central. Little Rock Central will be a tough one to open the season. They have a good team and several returning starters from last season.
The Hornets and Tigers split their two conference games against each other last year.
Against Benton, the Hornets grabbed an early lead when Ryan Watson got a breakaway for a one-on-one with the keeper and scored. Later, Bryce Denker scored off an assist from Ben Stukenborg.
Bryant got a gift when Denker’s long throw-in deflected into the goal off a Benton defender. To cap the scoring, Watson fed Chase Stuart who drilled it into the net.
“We played well enough to get the win,” Hay said. “We looked a little dead starting the game. No doubt we had some guys still tired and sore from the weekend tournament.”
The Hornets were fresh from capturing the championship of the Northwest Arkansas Tournament.
“Our passing did not look as crisp as we wanted,” Hay continued. “And we still did not finish like we need to. We had several goal-scoring opportunities that we hit right to the keeper or way over the crossbar.”
In the JV game, Evan Caddy had two goals and Bradley Oldham one. One of Caddy’s goals was assisted by Corey Lasuire. The other came off a shot by Cory Ballew that Caddy deflected in.
Oldham’s goal came off an assist from Logan Moore.
“I was impressed by the effort,” Hay mentioned. “They came out ready to play.”