Lady Cats soccer falls to North Lamar

By JIMMY ROGERS | News-Telegram Correspondent

Mar. 5, 2007 - Injuries and sickness played a major role in Saturday afternoon's Lady Cat 2-1 loss to North Lamar on the Prim Stadium pitch.

Defenseman Erica Verner was transported by ambulance to the local hospital when she collapsed in the team post-game huddle. Verner had received a clock-stopping head injury during the final 10 minutes of the game.

In the final minute of the game as the Lady Cats sought to tie the score, Bonnie Grafton was the target of a blatant full-body charge by a Pantherette defender just outside the 18-yard box. The result of the foul caused Grafton to leave the field feeling queasy, according to Lady Cat head coach Martin Bryant.

Goalie Kai'la Petty hyper-extended her knee, but remained in the game. The locals also played without the services of midfielder Robin Grafton who had suffered with pneumonia all week.

�It was just a tough game all around,� according to Bryant. �A couple of players get hurt. We played hard but like Monday, we couldn't get things to bounce our way.�

Playing into a strong wind, the Lady Cats' offensive attack kept North Lamar on their defensive heels for most of the first 10 minutes. Two opportunities came close to giving the locals an early lead.

At the seven-minute mark, Gayle Grand-Lienard took her first shot on goal. The Pantherette goalie fell on the ball to deny the goal. At the ten-minute mark, a handball in the 18-yard box allowed Bonnie Grafton a penalty kick. Her first touch hit the left post and rebounded back to her. She placed the rebound into the right side of the net but the goal was disallowed. A player taking a penalty kick is not allowed to play the ball a second time unless the goalie or another player has touched it.

The Lady Cats created three additional opportunities in the first half including a Grand-Lienard turn-and-shoot inside the 18, which, once again, the Pantherette goalie was able to stop.

North Lamar's lone goal of the first half came in the 33rd minute of the game on a shot from the right corner to the back post where four Pantherette's awaited the arrival of the ball. SSHS' Petty had no chance to make the save.

In the second half, the Lady Cats had little assistance from the wind that had changed direction on the field near the end of the first half.

�Any time we play where the wind is a factor, we want the wind in the second half," Bryant said. "We played well the first half. It just didn't work out.

Although North Lamar put the ball in play to start the second, Lady Cat Shelbi Elkin's first-minute shot on goal was batted away at the line by the opposing goalie. The Pantherettes finally cleared the corner kick that followed.

With 36:11 on the second half clock, a Grafton pass finished by Grand-Lienard provided the goal to tie the game at one all. In the final nine minutes of the game, Grand-Lienard provided a pass to the feet of Sarah Goldsmith who sent the ball to the back post but Grafton was unable to finish. Grand-Lienard had the final opportunity of the afternoon on a direct kick from the right corner of the box but Pantherette defense cleared at the ball.

Defensive work by Verner, D'Kota Hutchings and Brittany Lamphere kept North Lamar out of goal until the final six minutes when the Pantherettes scored the final afternoon goal.

The Lady Cats hold third place in district behind Paris and North Lamar. Paris and North Lamar must lose twice for the Lady Cats to move up in the standings. The games remaining on the district schedule call for Paris and North Lamar to meet and the Lady Cats are hoping for a Texas High win over Paris.

The Lady Cats have three games remaining in district. They travel to Mount Pleasant on Tuesday. Friday, they are at Texas High and end district in Pleasant Grove on March 12.

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