SPORTS >> Lady Lions fall short in tourney
FAYETTEVILLE – A three-peat was not meant to be on Friday.
That was most evident when the tying goal for Searcy by Kerry Moon with an assist from McKenzie Clark with 3:21 left to play was negated on an offside call.
The result was Mountain Home hanging on for a 2-1 win over the Lady Lions at Ladyback Soccer Field on Friday afternoon in the 6A state soccer finals.
The Lady Bombers (16-3-1) got their initial lead at the 12-minute mark of the second half on a side shot by Hannah Osmon, and went up 2-0 on a penalty kick by midfielder Kirsten Peterson six minutes later.
Searcy (15-6-2) got its only score of the match at the 19-minute mark of the second half on a free kick by Clark that was assisted by Chloe Birdwell, and attacked furiously into the final five minutes, but the Lady Lions’ spirits were deflated when Moon’s goal was waved off.
“The grass was wet, but that’s no excuse, because they played on the same field,” said Lady Lions coach Larry Stamps. “We always start out slow for some reason. Today was the same thing. We are usually a second-half team against this team, but it didn’t work out today.”
The Lady Lions tied Mountain Home and lost in their two 6A-East Conference matches during the season.
The Lady Lions controlled the ball through the first 20 minutes of the first half for the most part, but came up short on five shots on goal by Clark, and a free kick by Birdwell at the 32:57 mark. Mountain Home began to press in the latter stages of the half, but found getting past Searcy goalkeeper Larysa Rowley a tough task.
Rowley stopped eight shots total in the first half, the majority of which came from speedy Lady Bombers freshman forward Nicole Bolt.
Bolt got dangerously close in the final three minutes with a drive up the middle, but Rowley was able to stop the shot despite losing her footing.
It was Searcy’s third finals appearance in as many years. Stamps, in his first year as head coach of the Lady Lions soccer team, said he expects to make more trips to the finals in the coming years.
“We have parents who take these kids to ballgames all the time,” said Stamps. “And that’s one of the biggest things, that’s why our program is so successful. They do that when they’re young, so when I get them, it’s a piece of cake then.”
For Mountain Home coach Debbie Atkinson, the championship came in her team’s first trip to the state finals after falling to Jonesboro last year in the semis.
“They played hard for each other,” said Atkinson. “We were a team all the way from October. This is a team victory. Our seniors have worked so hard, and I am so proud of them.”