Lady Bobcats lose to Robinson in PK shootout
BATESVILLE — The Berryville Lady Bobcats were one game away from playing for the Class 4A state soccer championship, but the Pulaski Robinson Lady Senators defeated Berryville 4-3 in penalty kicks Saturday at Southside High School in Batesville.
"It was two evenly matched teams," Berryville coach Aaron Hall said. "I do feel like we were a little bit better. I thought we got more shots on goal, probably even more quality shots on goal. That's just soccer, though. Sometimes they just don't go in. It is what it is."
With the match tied at 1-1 early in the second half, Robinson's starting goalkeeper was injured in a collision with a Berryville player. She was unable to return to the game. The Lady Bobcats had a number of shots on goal and finally scored on a kick by Natalia Hernandez with 18:54 remaining in the match. The Lady Senators responded in less than 90 seconds, as MacKenzie Fredericks tied the match once again at 2-2.
"It was one of those things that before you have time to think and make adjustments, because we take that one-goal lead and we are going to put people in different positions and play a little more defensive instead of offensive," Hall said. "Before we had time to think, they scored."
Each team had scoring opportunities in the closing minutes of regulation, but each goalkeeper made tremendous saves, forcing overtime. In the first overtime period, Berryville attacked early but was unable to score the winning goal. After neither team scored in the second overtime period, the match went to penalty kicks. Robinson went first and Berryville's Amber Veach made the save. Fredericks, who was responsible for both Robinson goals, became the third goalie for the Lady Senators. She stopped Berryville’s first kick, then made a kick for Robinson for a 1-0 lead. After a Berryville miss, the Lady Senators made another kick to go ahead 2-0 before another miss by the Lady Bobcats. Amber Veach stopped the next kick by Robinson and a make by Mary-Kennedy Jackson trimmed the lead to 2-1. A miss by the Lady Senators gave Berryville a chance to extend the match, but a miss on the Lady Bobcats’ final try ended the match.
"You couldn't lose one much worse than you did the way the boys did on Thursday, but if you did it would be the way we did on Saturday," Hall said, referring to Berryville’s 2-1 loss to Warren in a first-round boys match. "We were spent. They were spent. They made PK's. Three kids I take my chances with missed shots on a PK. And their keeper did an outstanding job. Nothing but respect for them. And we still had a chance to win it on the last shot, it was just heartbreaking."
The Lady Bobcats controlled the ball for a majority of the first half, but Robinson scored on a breakaway goal with 21 minutes left in the first half. The goal was close to being offsides. The Lady Bobcats responded quickly, as Karleigh Giles scored to tie the match at 1-1 going into halftime.
After coaching a team that didn't even make the state tournament a year ago, Hall was glad to see the progress the Lady Bobcats made this year.
"We were young (last year),” Hall said. "We had a bunch of freshmen and had some issues. This year, those freshmen were sophomores and we gained two or three very good freshmen. We had Vicky (Villatoro) come back from an ACL injury. Some girls grew up and it was a great group of kids to be around. For a group of kids who didn't make the state tournament to turn around and make the final four the next year, you couldn't be more proud of these kids. They are great kids. I enjoyed going to practice every day. I enjoyed every one of the games. We didn't win all of the games, but we won most of them."
Berryville 6, Southside Batesville 0
The Lady Bobcats fell short against Robinson, but they looked plenty impressive in their quarterfinal win against the Southerners on Friday. Natalia Hernandez scored three goals, while Karleigh Giles had two and Maryn Jones added another.
"After getting to watch them play yesterday, that helped us," Berryville coach Aaron Hall said. "We saw that their defense was pretty good if you just stay stationary. We knew we had to move them and cross the ball. I think our first three goals were on crosses. The kids executed the game plan pretty well. I'm so proud of them. I thought we played well as a team."
The Lady Southerners went to penalty kicks against Baptist Prep in Thursday's first-round match. After beating E-Stem 9-1, the Lady Bobcats had plenty of rest heading into Saturday’s match. Berryville led 4-0 at halftime and a goal by Hernandez minutes into the second half trimmed the time in half once again, allowing the Berryville starters to get even more rest.
"We cut off 15 minutes or more today," Hall said. "We cut off 18-plus minutes yesterday. And that team we played today played 100 plus minutes yesterday. We played 60. That's a big difference. We got to cut time in half and we played early. That's a difference and anyone who says that isn't a factor, I think they are mistaken. It doesn't ensure you of anything, but it's a benefit."
The Lady Bobcats finished the season 11-2.