Leader Blues

Friday, March 12, 2010

SPORTS >> Wampus Cats start quickly, top Cabot

Junior forward William Hildago scored Cabot’s lone goal against Conway.

By JASON KING

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot soccer Panthers took their first loss, 3-1, to Conway on Tuesday at Panther Stadium.

The Wampus Cats dominated the first half, scoring all three of their goals before Cabot improved on both sides for the second half.

William Hidalgo scored the Panthers’ only goal near the 15-minute mark of the second half, but Conway’s three-score cushion was too much to overcome.

“We didn’t play like I expected us to in the first half,” Cabot coach Clark Bing said. “We got off to a slow start. And when you play that way against a team like that, they are going to get some easy goals on you. Second half, I felt like we played a lot better. We were more like ourselves.”

The Panthers, 2-1-1, 1-1 in the 7A-Central Conference, began the season with a mercy-ruled victory over Benton, followed by a 1-1 tie with three-time defending 6A state champion Searcy.

Cabot won its conference opener against Russellville 3-2 by holding on through a series of penalty kicks at the end.

“Our first two conference games were kind of like a tale of two teams,” Bing said. “We started out hot against Russellville and struggled at the end. Conway was just the opposite. We came out cold, then decided to play in the second half.”

Bing said he expects defense to be Cabot’s strength this year with experienced backfielders Hugo Lozano and Nick Lozano, who are not related, and Mark Rider.

Rider has been absent from the first two conference matches while nursing a sprained knee. The injury is not serious, but Bing wants Rider to wait until after spring break to return to the field just as a precaution.

“Our defense has been solid early on,” Bing said. “We’ve still got a lot of season left, but we bring three guys who are pretty good defenders. We have three seniors, but most of our players are juniors and sophomores who saw a lot of playing time last year.

“So, we’re kind of young in a sense, but most of them have been through it and know what to expect.”

The Lady Panthers fell to Conway 5-0 on Tuesday to make them 2-2 on the season and 0-2 in the 7A-Central. Head coach Danny Spencer said he has seen improvement each week and is waiting for everything to come together.