SPORTS>> NP wins, loses one at state
By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor
The Lady Falcon soccer team won North Pulaski’s first state tournament game Saturday afternoon at Burns Park. The Lady Falcons got a single goal less than a minute before halftime, then held on the rest of the way to beat Greenwood 1-0 and advance to the quarterfinal round.
That quarterfinal matchup took place Monday and saw an end to the season. The NP ladies, the two seed from the AAAA-East, took on West champion Greenbrier and fell 3-1 in a hard-fought match. North Pulaski led 1-0 at halftime Monday, but a bad collision sent NP goalkeeper Kristen Williams to the hospital for stitches around her eye, and left the Lady Falcons at a major disadvantage.
The only other Lady Falcon with much experience tending goal was also the team’s leading scorer, Ashley Durr. Durr moved to goalkeeper and North Pulaski went into a defensive mode to try and maintain its lead.
“We just tried to dig a trench and say give us what you got,” North Pulaski coach Deryll Durr said. “Our offense suffered without Ashley in there, and our goalkeeping suffered without Kristen. She was having a phenomenal game, so it made it tough against one of the highest rated teams in the state. But I guarantee you Greenbrier knew they were in a dogfight. I’m very, very proud of the girls. They battled hard and gave it everything they had.”
Williams left the game after leaving the box to grab the ball from a Greenbrier breakaway. Williams slid on her side and snatched the ball just as the Lady Panther struck, resulting in Williams getting kicked in the face.
“It was pretty nasty,” Durr said. “So not only did we have all the personnel problems after she left, all our girls were really concerned about her.”
Greenbrier simply attacked, and attacked some more after the injury to Williams, scoring three goals in the second half to advance to the semifinals.
North Pulaski took the lead on a goal of unknown origin after a big pile up in front of the North Pulaski goal.
Durr took the initial shot on goal. The Greenbrier goalkeeper blocked it, but couldn’t hold on and the ball dribbled back out into play. That resulted in a massive convergence on the ball just in front of the goal. After a moment of mayhem, the ball squirted out of the pack and into the net.
“We’re just not sure who scored it,” Durr said. “We think Ashlee Rico kicked out of the pack, but there may have been another girl touch it after that. We just can’t tell.”
On Saturday, the lone North Pulaski goal was scored by Durr, who also broke the school record for goals in the season with 23. Durr took a direct kick pass from Megan Delao from midfield. The ball bounced once and Durr scored from the 18.
“It was an outstanding play,” Durr said. “Megan got the direct kick of a lifetime. They were playing us too deep and Ashley nailed it.”
The Lady Falcons finish the season 10-8. Their second-place finish in the East conference was also the highest finish in school history. The previous high was fourth place.
“It was a great year,” Durr said. “The girls really, really improved from beginning to end.
“Our only conference loss was to Valley View and that was really early in the season. It was 6-2 and I think if we could have played them again later in the year the result would have been a lot different. We’re a totally different team than when we started. Greenbrier is an outstanding team and playing them so close is a testament to how much this group has improved.”