Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

SPORTS>>North Pulaski soccer drops pair of games to Sylvan Hills

Leader sportswriter

The storms of last week may have rendered the Sylvan Hills soccer teams homeless for the remainder of the season, but the Bears and Lady Bears proved that the show will indeed go on with a non-conference sweep of North Pulaski on Monday night at Falcon Stadium.

The Lady Bears scored a pair of first-half goals to claim a 2-0 shutout, while the Bears held off a late charge by NP senior and Alabama-Huntsville signee Greg West to take a 3-1 win.

Sylvan Hills controlled the game offensively in the first half, and most of the second half until the final 15 minutes of play.

A double-team on West limited opportunities for the Falcons, but he was finally able to put his speed to work in the late going. He scored North Pulaski’s only goal of the night during the final six minutes, and had several other strike attempts that simply didn’t fall.

“We got a little offense happy,” Sylvan Hills coach Samuel Persson said. “Because this is a non-conference game, and we were shuttling a lot of players in and out to give everybody a chance to play.

“I think our defensive guys lost a little focus; they were trying to get forward and get in the action a little more. We can chalk that up tolack of focus and also moving players around in there, so they’re not used to playing with each other as much.”

Corner kicks proved to be the Bears’ saving grace on Monday. Sophomore Adam Harris set up Sylvan Hills’ first goal at the 28-minute mark with a corner kick that was sent into the net with a header by junior Daniel Johnson. That gave the Bears a 1-0 advantage at intermission.

Senior Jessie Christian doubled the SH lead at the 13-minute mark of the second half with a straight-ahead shot to make it 2-0.

West’s goal for North Pulaski came at the 26-minute mark, when he faked the SH goalkeeper out of position and found an open net.

West had several other looks, but overshot the net on two occasions, and swept wide left a couple of other times.

The Bears used a family connection for their final goal with 5:37 to go, when Josh Persson set up Philip Persson with a perfect corner kick that Philip easily punched in for the insurance goal.

Coach Samuel Persson said the corner kicks that carried his team to the win were a bit of a surprise considering the limited amount of practice time the Bears have had over the past couple of weeks.

“I can’t say it’s because we’ve been working on them, because we haven’t even been able to practice for a while,” Persson said.

“We’ve had games cancelled, and then the tornado took away our facilities for a while. We’re doing the same thing we’ve been doing all season; they just got it right tonight.”

North Pulaski coach Tony Buzzitta said the slow start for his team was too much to overcome on Monday.

“We just started off slow,” Buzzitta said. “We haven’t had a real team practice since before spring break because of the weather.

We didn’t have rhythm with the ball. With a lot of practice, you know where to expect people to go, and now, their timing is off, and we came out flat for the first half.”

The Bears improved to 6-3 on the season. North Pulaski is now 5-5 overall.

Susanna Peters put the Lady Bears out front in the girls contest with a corner-kick assist from Jody Persson at the 20-minute mark of the first half, before standout junior forward Ashley English converted a strike moments later to set the final margin.

“We had opportunities the entire game, we just didn’t put it together,” North Pulaski coach Christy Delao said. “I think we’re having a getting-together problem with our team these days, I don’t know what the deal is.

“That’s what our little pow-wow [after the game] was about. It just wasn’t our game. We couldn’t get it together today.”

The Lady Falcons are now 5-4 overall, and hold a league record of 1-1.

“I was real proud of our girls,” Sylvan Hills coach Jerry Peters said. “They worked really hard on defense, and frustrated their offense all night. And our goalkeeper came up with the big saves and earned the shutout, so I was proud of her effort also.”

The Lady Bears improved to 4-5 on the year.

North Pulaski will host Greene County Tech in a pair of 5A-East Conference matches on Thursday.