Lady Bobcats set tone early, shut out Brookland
By Scott Loftis
Before his team faced Brookland on Thursday in the first round of the Class 4A girls soccer tournament in Batesville, Berryville coach Aaron Hall predicted there wouldn’t be a repeat of the Lady Bobcats’ 5-0 victory a year ago.
As it turns out, Hall’s prediction was off-base, and he couldn’t have been happier.
Berryville scored its first goal less than 30 seconds into the game, then scored four times in the second half to beat Brookland 5-0 for the second consecutive year.
“We played well,” Hall said.
Berryville took the lead almost immediately, as junior Natalia Hernandez scored the game’s opening goal just 25 seconds in.
“You could almost just hear the air go out of them,” Hall said.
The 1-0 margin remained unchanged through the remainder of a physical first half.
“It got pretty chippy,” Hall said. “Their style of play gets under our skin a little.”
In the second half, Berryville’s shots began to find the net. Senior Maryn Jones scored twice and had three assists while junior Alicia Mendoza and sophomore Lilli Compton added a goal apiece. Senior Karleigh Giles and sophomore Sunny Tibbets each had one assist.
Hall also singled out senior Vicky Villatoro and junior Taylor Swofford in addition to Hernandez.
“Those three girls played outstanding today,” he said. “I thought Sunny Tibbets played a great game, too. Our girls were ready to play.”
Although Brookland entered the game with a 17-4 record, Hall said the Lady Bobcats had faced a more grueling schedule in the rugged 4A West.
“It’s no secret that our conference is significantly stronger than theirs,” he said. “They do have skilled players but their league is pretty down. … We kind of got them on their heels a little bit in the first half, and it’s hard to beat a shutout.”
Berryville faces a more difficult test in the quarterfinals against Pulaski Academy. The Lady Bruins (16-1) are the top seed from the 4A-South. They are riding a 15-game winning streak and have outscored their opponents 119-6 this season.
Berryville and Pulaski Academy will meet at 2 p.m. Friday at Southside High School in Batesville.