RUSSELLVILLE -- Four-time defending state 6A champion Siloam Springs was reeling against Russellville in the second half Friday, but a freshman came to the Lady Panthers' rescue.
Trailing 1-0 as the clocked ticked toward the midway point of the second half, the Lady Panthers moved freshman defender Madison Race up into the attack in hopes of sparking some offense against the tournament host Lady Cyclones.
Race responded by giving Siloam Springs some energy, and her efforts played a large role in the No. 1 seed Lady Panthers rallying for a 2-1 victory at Cyclone Stadium.
Race almost immediately put pressure on Russellville's defense with a shot that was saved. Her next trip down the field, she went in hard for a ball with Russellville's keeper, Bailey McGill, who made another save.
But this time the ball bounced back to senior Megan Hutto who tied the game 1-1 with 22 minutes, 11 seconds left. Hutto would go on to score the game-winner nearly 10 minutes later for the Lady Panthers, but the talk after the game was the juice Race provided her team with.
"Maddie Race, she's a natural forward," said Siloam Springs coach Brent Crenshaw. "We've had to play her on defense this year, just trying to fill in some spots. She does a really good job defending one-on-one, but with 20 minutes left, we just couldn't get any pressure on them. We weren't creating a whole lot. I figured she likes to run, she's fast, she's aggressive. Put her up top, and she changed the game. She changed the whole momentum from the game."
Hutto, who scored her 27th and 28th goals of the season, was impressed with what the freshman did.
"She's always been a hustler," Hutto said. "She's always first to the ball. She always tries so hard, so that's really awesome about that. Her trying so hard motivated us I think to switch gears."
Hutto scored the match-winner with 12:17 left in the game. Senior Brooklyn Buckminster sent a ball long and Hutto blew by the Lady Cyclones' defense into a 1-on-1 situation with the keeper. Instead of blasting the ball into the goal, Hutto craftily dribbed the ball around and in for the score.
"I was going to do it to the left bottom corner, but the last second I saw her diving that way," she said. "If I play that way she's going to get it. Honestly I juked myself out, but it kind of worked out. I kind of center stepped a little bit and she was on the ground already, so I just kind of toe-balled it in."
The win moves Siloam Springs to today's 2 p.m. semifinals against Searcy.
Siloam Springs 2, LR Hall 1
For the second straight year, Siloam Springs' boys found themselves in a battle with Little Rock Hall in the Class 6A state tournament.
After going up 1-0 in the second half and then giving up a Hall equalizer, the Panthers found a way to manufacture one more goal and walk out of Cyclone Stadium with a 2-1 victory in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state tournament.
Julio Maldanado's goal with 20 minutes, 39 seconds left in the game came just 39 seconds after Hall's Yarli Jiron scored to tie the game at 1-1. It was a much needed score for the No. 1 seed and two-time defending champion Panthers, according to coach Brent Crenshaw.
"I was afraid we were going the other way because we were bickering and fighting with each other after that (Hall) goal," Crenshaw said. "Proud of Julio. That's what we've been looking for from him all year. He's so fast and aggressive."
The Panthers advance to Saturday's 4 p.m. semifinal game against Benton.
After a scoreless first half, Siloam Springs finally cracked the scoring column with 28:29 left in the second half when Christian Marroquin battled through Hall defenders in the box, stayed with the ball and got a shot past Hall keeper Carlos Fabian.
Sports on 05/12/2018
Print Headline: Freshman gives Lady Panthers spark