Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

SPORTS>>NP ladies win one, lose in quarters

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The Lady Falcons made some noise in the Class 5A state soccer tournament, but the season came to a close Monday with a 4-1 loss to Greenwood. A series of unfortunate events caused the Lady Falcons to arrive at the field at Harrison High School just 15 minutes before game time. The combination of a hurried, unfocused start and a talented group of Lady Bulldogs put North Pulaski in an early hole they couldn’t climb out of.

North Pulaski’s team bus was late picking up the team, and late arriving to the pitch. The team dressed on the bus on the way to the game, stretched quickly and began playing its quarterfinal matchup.

“We just never really got a chance to get ready and that really hurt us,” North Pulaski coach Christy Delao said. “We just weren’t focused when the game started.”

Greenwood scored three goals in the first half to take a commanding 3-0 lead into intermission. The Lady Falcons didn’t give up, and cut the margin to 3-1 early in the second half.

Greenwood took the goal personally, and stepped up the defensive aggression and went into a defensive mode the rest of the game.

“They were really wanting that shut out and the game took on a little meaner tone after we scored,” Delao said. “They really went defensive to keep us from scoring and getting closer, and they really got aggressive. I was proud of the girls though, they never quit and they kept it close. Ultimately though, Greenwood is really talented and could very well win state. I think they were sort of expecting a runaway win and I was proud of the girls for scoring and making it close.” The Lady Falcons advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win over the Hope Lady Bobcats in the first round.

That game was scoreless for much of the first half until Brittany Hettinger scored an unassisted goal with about 15 minutes left in the half. That stood as the lone goal through the first half, but it was just moments after the second half started that NP took a 2-0 lead.

In the second minute of the second, Sophie Weber broke away for the Lady Falcons’ final goal of the game. The NP ladies gave up a goal with about 12 minutes left, and took a defensive posture the rest of the game. “We wanted to make it as difficult as possible for them to score,” Delao said. The Lady Falcons finished the season with a record of 8-5-1 and won the 5A-East conference championship. The team impressed its coach throughout the season.

“We were a little lucky in that the rec league wasn’t able to put together a U-18 team,” Delao said. “Most of the girls out for that were North Pulaski kids, so we made some phone calls and got some people to come out that had experience playing with each other. That gave us a good start, but the girls were just awesome. They came together as a team and just got better and better. From day one to Greenwood this team continued to improve.”