SSHS girls split opening games
Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer

January 23, 2004 -- Sulphur Springs got into a pair of Wild West Texas shootouts Thursday during pool play of the Lady Cat Snowball Classic at Gerald Prim Stadium.

The Lady Cats split their opening pool games against Nacogdoches and North Lamar, and stand in third place with two points.

They were scheduled to finish up pool play today with games at 10 a.m. against Kaufman and 4 p.m. against Palestine. If they finish in the top two in their pool, they will continue play Saturday in the championship bracket.

Nacogdoches wins in 2OT

After tying 1-1 in regulation and 1-1 in the first overtime, Nacogdoches' Rachel Hugman scored on the first kick of the second overtime, and the Lady Cats were unable to convert on their final six attempts in the second extra frame.

The loss didn't phase head coach J.J. Williams, as he got a couple of pieces of good news. He was impressed with the play of freshman goalkeeper Kai'la Petty, who stopped 13-of-14 shots, including 7-of-9 in the two shootouts. Williams said he would prefer to keep her on the varsity squad even though he was given a note at the end of the game that cleared starting keeper Lacey Lopez to play as early as today.

SSHS (3-5) won its nightcap and is so far taking a similar route to last year's tournament, when the Lady Cats fell to John Tyler in their opener only to come back and advance to the championship game.

"That was a good team we just played," Williams said. "We might meet them in the championship game if we take care of business.

"I was pleased with Kai'la's play in goal. I told her in the shootout to sprint like a wild woman, because a lot of keepers lay back and wait for a shot. I didn't want her to do that."

The Lady Cats did a good job of shutting down a pretty talented Lady Dragon threesome that consisted of finesse (Kelly Ivey), speed (Brandi O'Neal) and power (Elyse McMorries).

In the second half, a SSHS fan was talking to head trainer Chad McCune, saying the team needed a spark. No sooner than the words came out of his mouth, the Lady Cats tied the game 1-1, proving the old phrase "ask, and ye shall receive."

Petty's older sister Ashley took a crossing pass from freshman midfielder Gayle Grand-Lienard and scored past NHS goalkeeper Kesli Ivey with 23:26 left in the game on one of only six SSHS shots in the game.

"Gayle gave me a good pass, and I was able to slide-kick it in," Ashley Petty said. "We didn't worry too much once they got their early goal, because we knew there was still plenty of time.

"They had some really tall girls who were aggressive and hard to get around, but they weren't as fast as we were."

Haley Adams scored on the first kick of the shootout for Nacogdoches, but the Lady Cats would answer. Junior midfielder Tess Bragg threaded the needle with a left-footed shot that went just inside the post. Kesli Ivey could do nothing but watch the ball go by.

Hugman scored on the first kick of the second shootout, and the officials ruled that the game was over. After a lengthy discussion on whether all five players in the second frame were required to shoot, the teams came back on the field and finished the round. The Lady Dragons missed their final three shots, but SSHS was unable to convert on its final four opportunities.

NHS scored with 12:53 left in the first half, as Sarah Warren sent a booming kick toward Kai'la Petty that went off the keeper's hands and into the net. It didn't matter, as big sister would pick her up in the second half.

"It was nerve wracking," Kai'la Petty said. "The sun was in my eyes, I couldn't concentrate on the ball and it slipped out of my hands. Danielle (Smith) and Yorri (Franklin) did a lot of talking on the field and did a good job of keeping the field clear for me."

SSHS beats North Lamar in 2OT

After tying 3-3 in regulation, the Lady Cats finally won in the second shootout, 6-5, on Jennifer Moreland's winning shot.

The Lady Cats tied the game with two minutes to play when freshman Robin Grafton knocked in a header off a cross from classmate Gayle Grand-Lienard.

"She put her head on it and put it right back in the net," Coach Williams said. "It was a nice shot."

Also scoring in regulation were Grand-Lienard and Ashley Petty.

"We had a lot of girls come through for us," Williams said. "We're just working on coming together as a team. We've got three freshmen on the team, and we've just got to get them to jell together with their teammates, and I think it's happening.

Besides that, we're working on spreading out and controlling our passes. We're working on spreading the field and looking at everybody. We did a better job of that against North Lamar."

Williams is hoping his team can pull out two wins today, which coupled with a North Lamar loss to Nacogdoches, could give the Lady Cats enough points to move into second place in their pool.

The top two teams from each pool meet in Saturday's championship bracket.

"We need some good things to happen today," Williams said. "As was proven yesterday, we've got two of the weaker teams in our bracket to play today. So now, maybe we can make a move on the top two teams.

"I'd be happy with second place in our pool, because the way it's set up, all you have to do is make it to Saturday and you've got a shot at the championship game."

Sports Editor Butch Burney contributed to this report

Thursday's Scores

Pool A

Nacogdoches 5, Kaufman 0

North Lamar 4, Palestine 0

Nacogdoches 1, Sulphur Springs 1 (Nac wins in shootout)

Kaufman 3, Palestine 2

Sulphur Springs 3, North Lamar 3 (SS wins in shootout)

Pool B

Ennis 3, Chapel Hill 0

Greenville 2, Mount Pleasant 1

Corsicana 8, Ennis 0

Mount Pleasant 5, Chapel Hill 0

Corsicana 3, Greenville 0

Friday's Schedule

HS-high school field; CP-Coleman Park

10 a.m. -- Nacogdoches vs. North Lamar (HS); Kaufman vs. Sulphur Springs (CP)

11:30 a.m. -- Chapel Hill vs. Greenville (HS); Mount Pleasant vs. Ennis (CP)

1 p.m. -- Palestine vs. Nacogdoches (CP)

2:30 p.m. -- Corsicana vs. Chapel Hill (HS); Greenville vs. Ennis (CP)

4 p.m. -- Kaufman vs. North Lamar (HS); Palestine vs. Sulphur Springs (CP)

6 p.m. -- Mount Pleasant vs. Corsicana (HS)

Saturday

9 a.m. -- Winner Pool A vs. Second Pool B

10:30 a.m. -- Winner Pool B vs. Second Pool A

1 p.m. -- Third place game

2:30 p.m. -- Championship game

 

JUNIOR VARSITY

All games at Coleman Park Field No. 6

Friday

10 a.m. -- Mount Pleasant vs. Corsicana

11 a.m. -- Nacogdoches vs. Kaufman

Noon -- Greenville vs. Mount Pleasant

1 p.m. -- Sulphur Springs vs. Nacogdoches

2 p.m. -- Corsicana vs. Greenville

3 p.m. -- Kaufman vs. Sulphur Springs

Saturday

10 a.m. -- Third A vs. Third B

11 a.m. -- Second A vs. Second B

Noon -- Winner A vs. Winner B

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