Upset: SS soccer girls take down Paris

By JIMMY ROGERS | News-Telegram Correspondent

Feb. 7, 2007 - PARIS - Two goals one minute apart at the top of the second half inspired the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats' victory in the district opener on Tuesday.

The Lady Cats outscored last year's district champion Paris, 5-2, at Noyes Stadium in Paris.

�This is a goal we set in May when I took the job,� said Lady Cat head coach Martin Bryant. �We wanted to win our first district game. Paris was 10-0 last year in district. In my opinion these are the top two teams in district.�

Before the night ended, those present agreed with his assessment.

It was a game filled with offensive opportunities and yellow cards. Five cards were handed out during the game including one in each half to the Lady Cats (1-0 in District 16-4A, 6-4-1 overall) and three in the second half to Paris (0-1, 2-5-1).

In the first five minutes of play, both goalies stayed awake as Paris made four runs on goal and Sulphur Springs managed two. Near misses for both teams punctuated the first 20 minutes.

Sulphur Springs was first in the goal with 18:13 showing on the clock. A set kick rebounded to the feet of senior Robin Grafton who sent it into the goal from the top of the 18-yard box. Two minutes later, the Lady Cats had another near miss when Grafton set the ball to freshman Karlie Junot whose shot was stopped at the line by Paris goalie Stephanie Clifford.

Paris finally connected with a tying goal at the 10:44 mark as both teams continued their attacks. In the final minute of the half, Sulphur Springs had three chances for the lead but could not connect. With 45 seconds showing on the clock, senior Gayle Grand-Lienard sent up a pass to Sarah Goldsmith who quickly put the ball at the feet of Bonnie Grafton for a close range shot that was deflected out over the goal line by a defender. Two Lady Cat corner kicks later and time ran out in the half with the game tied one all.

Five shots and three goals in the first seven minutes of play defined the intensity of the second half. Sulphur Springs put the ball in play but within the first 40 seconds, Paris' Karen Taylor took the first shot with Brooke Taylor getting the follow and the goal. The Paris 2-1 lead was soon forgotten.

Within two minutes, the Lady Cats had the lead. Junot sent one into the goal to tie the game at the 37:18 mark. Less than one minute later, with 36:20 showing on the clock, Amanda Stoutenberg sent one from the left corner to Robin Grafton who finished it for her second goal and a 3-2 lead.

At that point, Coach Bryant took Paris out of the game by assigning Devyn Cullins to shadow Paris' season-leading scorer.

�Once we got up two goals, I felt that we had enough cushion that I put Devyn on No. 10. I don't think No. 10 touched the ball again until late in the game.�

The first seven minutes of action was followed by seven minutes of uninspired play that ended when Sulphur Springs resumed its attack, scoring with 21:35 left in the game on Grand-Lienard 15-yard shot.

With 15 minutes left in the game, Bryant added another defensive anchor by moving the Junot from forward to midfield.

Paris coach Stephen Long said he felt his team played well at times, but “Sulphur beat us to the ball and that's what did it for them. They beat us to the ball when we needed it.”

In the final minute of the game, it looked as though Sulphur Springs would waste the clock as the right defender sent a long ball up field, but Grand-Lienard took the ball at 30 yards out and instead of sending it out of play, dribbled in for her second goal of the evening.

It was Grand-Lienard's 16th goal of the season, which is on pace to break the single-season scoring record for Lady Cat soccer of 29 goals set by Ashley Petty in 2004.

Friday, the Lady Cats seek to continue their undefeated district season at North Lamar. Games are at 5:30 p.m. for JV and 7 p.m. for varsity.

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