Hor­nets face Bull­dogs for 1st state ti­tle try Bryant back in busi­ness Hor­nets

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­courier.com By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­courier.com

BRYANT – Win­ning their first con­fer­ence ti­tle since 2014, the Cen­tral No. 1 seed Bryant Hor­nets soc­cer team earned a first-round bye in the 6A State Tour­na­ment and will now play for their first ever state cham­pi­onship Fri­day when they face the West No. 1 seed Spring­dale Bull­dogs at 2 p.m. at Ra­zor­back Field in Fayet­teville.

Bryant Coach Rick Fri­day said it’s been all part of the plan.

“The boys have worked hard this sea­son,” Fri­day said of the Hor­nets. “They’ve had a goal that we’ll win the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship and the state cham­pi­onship. We’ve just kept our fo­cus since Au­gust.”

And there’s no doubt it’s been a to­tal team ef­fort.

“There’s been ca­ma­raderie,” Fri­day said. “We have lead­ers, but no one re­ally tries to step on any­one else. Ev­ery­body has a role to play. We have our play­mak­ers, we have our de­fend­ers, we have kids that are solid in the mid­dle and all the puz­zle pieces fit.”

The Hor­nets (16-2-2, 13-1 Cen­tral) de­feated Van Buren 2-1 in the state quar­ter­fi­nals be­fore edg­ing Rogers in a

5-4 shootout af­ter a score­less reg­u­la­tion, while Spring­dale (17-2, 14-0 West), which also won its con­fer­ence and re­ceived a first-round bye, edged Northside 4-3 in the quar­ters and blanked Ben­tonville 3-0 in the semis.

“A lot of their kids have played club to­gether since they were lit­tle,” Fri­day said of Ben­tonville. “They grew up to­gether and they picked up some ex­tra pieces this year to make them more solid. They have a re­ally good pro­gram and they’re a re­ally good team. They feel like they’re in po­si­tion

BRYANT – The Bryant Lady Hor­nets are re­turn­ing to Ra­zor­back Field in Fayet­teville for the sec­ond straight year. Af­ter suf­fer­ing a heart-break­ing 3-2 over­time loss to the Rogers Lady Moun­ties in the ti­tle game last year, the Lady Hor­nets will at­tempt to fin­ish the job this sea­son against the only team they’ve lost to this year - the Con­way Lady Wam­pus Cats.

Bryant and Con­way will kick off for the 6A State Tour­na­ment ti­tle Fri­day at 4 p.m. at Ra­zor­back Field.

“Our goal was to have two Cen­tral Con­fer­ence teams rep­re­sented in the fi­nals,” Bryant Coach Ni­cole In­man said af­ter de­feat­ing Ben­tonville in the semi­fi­nals. “They’re (Con­way) a good team. But my dad re­minded me when I was in high school, we played a team once that beat us twice in the sea­son, and we went and

to win the state tour­na­ment af­ter com­ing up short in the semis the last two years. They re­al­ize this is their last chance and they’re mo­ti­vated to go and do it.”

It’s been a bal­anced ef­fort scor­ing for Bryant this year as nine Hor­nets have be­tween 2 and 9 goals, with ju­nior Brandon Del­gadillo lead­ing the way with nine. Sopho­more Grant Jacuzzi fol­lowed with six, with se­nior Luis Lara and Henry Terry adding five apiece. Lara and Terry also are tied for the team lead in as­sists with five each. Ju­nior goal­keeper Codi Kirby mans the net with 57 saves and five shutouts.

TONY LE­NA­HAN/THE Saline Courier

Bryant sopho­more Ad­di­son Funk jumps to block a goal at­temp in a match ear­lier this sea­son. The Lady Hor­nets will take on the Con­way Lady Wam­pus Cats in the 6A State Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship Fri­day at 4 p.m.

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