Lady Panthers’ season ends in quarterfinals

Pulaski Academy defeats Siloam Springs 2-1 at state tournament

Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader
Siloam Springs junior Abby Ballesteros (right( controls the ball as Brinkley Moreton of Greene County Tech closes in on the play.
Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader Siloam Springs junior Abby Ballesteros (right( controls the ball as Brinkley Moreton of Greene County Tech closes in on the play.

JONESBORO -- The ball didn't bounce Siloam Springs' way on Friday. And neither did the breaks.

Pulaski Academy scored two goals on penalty kicks and held off a late Lady Panthers' charge to defeat Siloam Springs 2-1 in the 5A state quarterfinals Friday at Raider Field on the campus of Nettleton High School.

"I was really proud of the girls," said Siloam Springs coach Abby Jones. "They never stopped battling. (Thursday)'s game, they were down 1-0 and came back for the win, and today we're down 1-0 at halftime and we keep battling the whole second half, even down 2-0 we're still going at them and we get a goal out of it. So I was proud of their resilience. They don't put their heads down. They just keep fighting to the end, and that's something that speaks to their character for sure."

The Lady Panthers fell behind 1-0 in the 15th minute when a hand ball in the box gave the Lady Bruins a penalty kick.

Carmen Owens was successful on her penalty kick try with 25:49 left in the first half to give the Lady Bruins (19-1) a 1-0 lead.

The score remained 1-0 until the 57th minute when Pulaski Academy was awarded another penalty kick. Owens again was able to score on the PK with 23:11 remaining and a 2-0 lead.

"I think we started really well," said Pulaski Academy coach Chris Owen. "I think we started pretty fast, and we got a goal. But I think the game settled down a little bit. I knew it was going to be close. They're a good team. They're well-coached. It's always going to be a tight game. I think the second goal helped us a little more where we could change things around a little bit. But it was a really hard game. I think it was two good teams. I thought both teams battled really hard and it was competitive. I'm just happy to come out with a victory in the end."

The Lady Bruins outshot Siloam Springs 12-5 overall with 10 of those being on target. Junior goalkeeper Ahnaka Buxton made six saves in the first half, but was injured late in the first half. Freshman Norah Perkins played the entire second half in goal for Siloam Springs, while Buxton did re-enter as a midfielder in the second half.

Defensively, Jones was pleased with Siloam Springs' performance as the Lady Panthers did not give up a goal in the field of play.

But after Pulaski Academy grabbed a lead, the Lady Bruins started sending reinforcements back defensively, making it difficult for Siloam Springs to generate much offense.

"As soon as we gave up the PK, they did start playing more defense and after they had the second goal, they had five in the back," Jones said. "So they parked the bus on us, so that's one reason we weren't able to get a great attack going. I think they're a solid team, so it was a battle back and forth. We weren't able to get as many shots on goal as we had hoped. I attribute that to their defense."

It also wound up being a very physical game, Jones said, which caught the Lady Panthers off guard.

"Ref let a lot of that go," she said. "It took us a little bit to answer the physicality because we weren't expecting that. I don't think any of us came into this game expecting a private school is going to be shoving after the ball is gone, so I think it took us a little while to match that level of physicality, not knowing they would bring that to the game."

Down 2-0, Siloam Springs came to life late offensively. Mesa Broquard scored her 25th goal of the season off an assist from sister Jetta Broquard with 2:28 remaining in the match.

Siloam Springs kept scratching and clawing, pushing numbers forward, trying to get an equalizer and got the ball back in the Lady Bruins' zone but couldn't score again.

"I really think that our girls did a good job battling to the end," Jones said. "I mean we left nothing out there."

Siloam Springs' season ends at 15-5-2 overall after reaching the state finals last year.

The Lady Panthers lose eight seasons but return a solid group of players that could make another run next season.

"We lose eight seniors, but I think we come back even stronger," Jones said. "We had a really big freshman group this year that the older they get the better they're going to get. I think they got a little taste of what the state tournament is all about. They'll be ready to win a championship in the future."

Siloam Springs 2, Greene County Tech 1

PARAGOULD -- Siloam Springs' girls soccer team was starting down a 1-0 deficit heading into halftime of Thursday's opening round of the Class 5A state tournament.

Greene County Tech's Mackenzie Souers had broke free for a goal in the 19th minute to give the Lady Eagles a 1-0 lead, and not much was happening for Siloam Springs.

The second half proved to be much better for the Lady Panthers.

Jetta Broquard scored a pair of second half goals and the Lady Panthers rallied for a 2-1 victory at Eagle Stadium on the campus of Greene County Tech.

"We talked all year about just doing the little things right," said SSHS girls coach Abby Jones. "So coming out in the second half it was more about winning the 50-50 balls, playing to feet -- I think they did a good job of that. It's hard to be down a goal and feel like your season could be ending. I think they had a lot of resilience, showed a lot of character, by going out in the second half and going to battle for the win."

Siloam Springs (15-4-2) plays at 10 a.m. Friday against 5A-Central No. 1 seed Pulaski Academy (18-1), which beat Sheridan 9-0 on Thursday.

Siloam Springs tied the match up less than seven minutes into the second half. Ellen Slater drove into the Lady Eagles' zone and passed ahead to Broquard, who scored the equalizer.

Broquard then scored off a Siloam Springs cornerkick from Abby Ballesteros with 22:30 remaining for the game-winner.

It was Broquard's team-leading 26th and 27th goals of the season.

"Jetta's been great for us all year," Jones said. "She and (sister) Mesa are so close in goals, and usually if one of them performs well we'll win the game. So Jetta will have a game, Mesa will have a game. It's really great when both of them go off. But I think that's the strength of our team, both of them score a lot of goals, but we have a lot of midfielders that also add to it."

Greene County Tech (14-8-1), the 5A-West No. 3 seed, which was playing in front of its home fans, was unable to mount much offense after the early goal.

"We knew at that point they were probably going to try and sit in and take us to the end on a 1-0 lead," Jones said. "I knew if we scored one we would win the game. We just had to get out of that hole and that's hardest part sometimes, digging yourself out of the hole."

photo Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader Siloam Springs girls soccer players (from left) Chaney Stanaland, Mesa Broquard, Jetta Broquard and Ellen Slater celebrate after Jetta Broquard scored to give the Lady Panthers a 2-1 lead against Greene County Tech on Thursday in the opening round of the Class 5A state tournament.
photo Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader Pulaski Academy's Eva Dietz (left) and Siloam Springs' Faith Ellis battle for position during Friday's 5A quarterfinals match at Raider Field on the campus of Nettleton Schools in Jonesboro.
photo Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader Siloam Springs junior Ellen Slater fights off a Greene County Tech player to gain possession during the opening round of the Class 5A state tournament on Thursday.
photo Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader Siloam Springs senior Anna Wleklinski and junior Jetta Broquard (No. 6) embrace just moments after the Lady Panthers were defeated 2-1 by Pulaski Academy in the 5A state soccer quarterfinals at Nettletons Raider Field on Friday in Jonesboro.

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