Seniors provide victory in Lady Cats' finale

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 11, 2008 - It was the feet of a pair of Sulphur Springs seniors who gave the Lady Cats their margin of victory over Pleasant Grove on Monday during Senior Night.

Ana Sanchez and D'Kota Hutchings both each scored a goal - Hutchings' game-winner came with just 5:22 remaining in the match - as the Lady Cats wrapped up their season with a 2-1 victory at Gerald Prim Stadium.

The Lady Cats dominated the game, taking 19 shots to just two for Pleasant Grove, but were behind 1-0 at halftime.

Sanchez put in the equalizer at the 23:11 mark of the second half when she fired a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that glanced off the leaping hands of the PG keeper, bounced up, hit the top bar and rebounded behind the keeper into the goal.

Hutchings' winner came off a set kick from about 20 yards out after Sanchez was fouled. The ball also nicked the underside of the top bar as it went in.

"I was a good way to finish," said SSHS head coach Martin Bryant. "It's always good to be able to finish on a win. That doesn't happen for everybody, and it's good for our seniors to go out that way.

"Ana and D'Kota, to score goals in the final game, for what they've done for us, was very fitting."

The game was sort of a match of attrition. Pleasant Grove played a girl short the entire match, while SSHS was without four normal starters due to injury, a red card disqualification and grades.

That opened up a spot for sophomore Kaci Crowson, whose speed gave the Lady Cats an added dimension at forward. She didn't score but had one shot nick the left post as it went wide in the first half.

About 10 minutes late, Pleasant Grove put in its only goal by getting four touches in the six-yard box. That was one of only two shots on goal for the Lady Hawks.

"We didn't end up the way we wanted, but at the same time, we ended on a strong note," Bryant said. "I think these last five games we played better than we did earlier on."

Bryant started all six seniors: Hutchings and Sanchez along with Amanda Stoutenberg, Katarina Baxley, Crysel Garcia and Chelsea English. Mona Bender, an exchange student from Germany, participated in Senior Night but played on JV because of her exchange status.

"The seniors have done anything I've asked them to do," Bryant said. "I haven't had trouble with any of them. The ones that started and contributed will be hard to replace."

A note on each of the seniors:

Hutchings ended the season with four goals as she played some midfield and some sweeper. She is a four-year letterman and two-time captain. As secretary of the senior class, she is also involved in Key Club, Spanish and French clubs and FCA. She will be attending East Texas Baptist and studying education.

Sanchez, a three-year varsity soccer member, put in four goals as well this season. She was the district cross country champion her senior year and also is a member of the Art Club.

Stoutenberg had two goals and one assist as an outside mid. She has been involved in FCA, Spanish and French clubs, HSTE, Leadership, Key Club and soccer. She will attend Abilene Christian University.

Garcia will be heading to Mexico to attend college after participating in soccer all four years. She is also in National Honor Society, Spanish Club, UIL accounting and Junior Advisory Board.

English was a three-year varsity member and was also involved in HSTE. She plans on attending Northeast Texas CC to study physical therapy.

Baxley played soccer three years and volleyball two years. She plans on attending Texas A&M-Commerce and becoming a minister.

Bender was a member of the Blue Blazes and Key Club in her only year at SSHS. She will return to her hometown of Frankfurt, Germany to attend college or aviation or law enforcement.

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