Lady Cats earn share of third place with win over MPHS

By JIMMY ROGERS | News-Telegram Correspondent

Mar. 7, 2007 - MOUNT PLEASANT - A 5-0 victory Tuesday night in Mount Pleasant earned the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats a share of third place in District 16-4A, and a win Friday at Texas High will secure a playoff slot.

The SSHS win came on the heels of a 2-1 loss Saturday to North Lamar, which is tied with Paris for first place.

�It was something we needed,� said SSHS head coach Martin Bryant, �to turn around and play well. It would have been nice to have scored a few more but I am happy with the 5-0 win.�

Mount Pleasant may have put the ball in play to start the game, but the first five minutes belonged to the Lady Cats with Karlie Junot getting the first goal as she outran a Lady Tiger defender chasing a Bonnie Grafton lead pass. Four minutes into the game, Junot, a freshman, sent the ball from the left side of the 18-yard box to just inside the right post. It was the fourth shot on goal for the Lady Cats since the opening touch.

Senior striker Gayle Grand-Lienard picked up the game's second, fourth and fifth goals completing a hat trick - her fifth of the season. She now has 26 goals and with two games left in the regular season, Grand-Lienard needs only three goals to tie and four to break the single season scoring record set by Ashley Petty.

�Hopefully," Bryant said, "she will break the record and we will win out.�

Grand-Lienard's three goals resulted in what is her strongest option - one-on-one against the opposing goalie. Her first goal of the evening off Lady Tiger keeper Lacy Lee came as the result of a long pass from Grafton 12 minutes into the game. She scored again in the final six minutes of the half. Her third goal came in the first minute of the second half. She just missed a fourth, less than eight minutes into the second half when her shot passed inches wide of the left far post.

Not only did Grafton, a sophomore midfielder, assist the Junot goal and two of the Grand-Lienard goals, but she also picked up one of her own on a Grand-Lienard assist. Grafton had the third goal of the game that came with 18:33 on the first-half clock.

Lady Cat defense played a key role in the win as they shut out several Lady Tiger attacks. After the game, Bryant said junior defender D'Kota Hutchings had one of her better games.

�We talked all week about her getting aggressive," the coach said. "Once she gets to the ball, she doesn't stop. She makes the decision to go through the ball and keeps coming to make a run.�

Junior Chelsea English stepped into the starting role in the absence of senior Erica Verner who continues to recuperate following an injury sustained in the North Lamar game last Saturday. Bryant said, “I thought Chelsea did a great job stepping in for Erica.”� �

Sophomore defender Brittany Lamphere “will end up being a great player for us,” Bryant said after the game.

Senior midfielder Robin Grafton returned the pitch for brief play Tuesday. She is recovering from a bout with pneumonia that had sidelined her.

Bryant said the Lady Cats have improved their communication on the field. He was pleased with ball movement in the second half.

�We kept the ball on the ground and moved some stuff through the middle,� he explained. �We were talking today about playing faster by not taking so long to get our kicks set up and taking throw-ins. We just wanted to get it in play. Get the ball moving and good things will happen.�

The Lady Cats travel to Texas High on Friday. Bryant stated, “We have clinched a share of third but if we win Friday at Texas High, we are in the playoffs and you don't have to worry about that last game.”

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