Mount St. Mary’s goalkeeper Molly Parker, from left, looks on as Greenwood’s Hope Hesslen and Piper Hartness celebrate after Hartness scored the only goal during the Lady Bulldogs’ 1-0 victory on Friday, April 5, 2013, at Smith-Robinson Stadium in Greenwood.
Mount St. Mary’s Academy was on a cruise. The Belles were unbeaten in conference play, outscoring opponents by a 20-goal margin overall and dominating possession against Greenwood on Friday.
The Lady Bulldogs sent that ship off course.
Piper Hartness scored against the run of play in the 52nd minute and Greenwood received a brilliant effort from its defense to upset the Belles, 1-0, at Smith-Robinson Stadium.
Midseason conference game or not, the postgame jubilation was deserved.
“‘Wow is good,” Greenwood coach Chris Young said. “Really good team we beat. They play really pretty soccer, but sometimes, playing hard and having more heart works out. And that’s what happened. Our girls fought.”
Hartness’ was one of few chances the Lady Bulldogs (5-2 in 7A/6A Central) had all game. She took a long ball from Maddie Gilliam off the feet of a Mount St. Mary’s defender on a dead sprint. The defender fell and Hartness marched forward alone with the goalkeeper to beat.
Hartness’ slightly heavy touch allowed the keeper to nick it at her feet, but she managed to poke it free from the keeper’s hands and slot the ball into the gaping net.
Hartness’ admitted her timing on the pass wasn’t perfect, but effort and determination netted her the goal.
“I tried to outrun but they beat me to it at first. I was a little late but I still ran pretty fast because I knew it was coming,” she said. “Their defense is really tough, but I got it out of the goalie’s hands and I put it in the bottom right corner.”
The rest was all Hannah White and the defense. The senior sweeper kept her defensive mates on-task the whole game.
The Belles (4-1) dominated possession, but never unlocked the resolute Greenwood back line. Mount St. Mary’s spent nearly 70 percent of the game in the attacking third, but managed only a handful of shots. Tight marking kept the skilled Belles forwards from gaining much space to create.
“I saw all their stats and I compared how many goals they had scored against how many we had scored against the same teams and I knew it was going to be a really tough game. I had to be focused, mentally prepared. I’ve been focusing all day,” White said.
In fact, not counting a win against Little Rock Parkview because of forfeit, Mount St. Mary’s had outscored conference opponents Northside, Little Rock Hall and Russellville by a combined score of 21-1. No one in Arkansas had come close to beating the Belles in regular-season play.
“They’re a very good possession team, very technical and we knew we weren’t going to be able to knock the ball around them,” Young said. “It was a great effort goal. After we did that, we were able to defend. Our keeper played great in the back, our defense played great, kept them marked up and didn’t give them anything.”
Goalkeeper Megan Hartness had to make a few saves, but White and the Lady Bulldogs defense never gave Mount St. Mary’s a clean look at the target from a real scoring area. Megan Hartness’ stiffest test came in the 22nd minute when Kristen Howell found a bit of open space and sent a blast toward goal from 21 yards.
Hartness lined up the shot and made the save cleanly into her body.
All the other Belles’ chances came from a scramble and ball usually scooted away harmlessly out of play.
The win should keep Greenwood atop the power ratings in 6A-East and among the leaders in the conference.
“We worked really hard and I’m really excited because I think this year is probably the first we will actually have a really good chance of getting state,” White, a senior, said. “This is the best team in the conference and if we can beat them… If we play hard, play aggressive, run to the ball, we can win.”
Little Rock Catholic 3, Greenwood 0
BOYS — The middle 40 minutes from Greenwood were solid. It was those pesky other 20 at the beginning and end of the match that hurt the Bulldogs. A pair of early goals from Catholic’s Jacob Blair doomed Greenwood.
The Greenwood (2-5) defense was caught unaware when Blair tucked in his first goal in the second minute. He added another 15 minutes later.
“We gave up two bad goals early in the first half and kind of got our heads down a little,” Young said. “Once we settled in we played a bit. They controlled possession, but we limited the opportunities after that.”
The Bulldogs didn’t give up many real opportunities. But Catholic (4-1) got another goal after Blair scored his second in the 17th minute, but the tight Rockets defense also kept Greenwood from securing too many chances, either. The Bulldogs nearly picked up a miraculous goal when Matias Ebeling unexpectedly volleyed a ball from 37 yards that went just wide of the net.
Logan Lewis added a final goal for Catholic in the 65th minute.
High School Soccer
Greenwood 1, Mount St. Mary’s 0
Mount St. Mary’s 0 0 — 0
Greenwood 0 1 — 1
Gre — P. Hartness, 52nd minute
Little Rock Catholic 2, Greenwood 0
Catholic 2 1 — 3
Greenwood 0 0 — 0
Cat — Blair, 2nd minute
Cat — Blair, 17th minute
Cat — Lewis, 63th minute