NORTH LITTLE ROCK — The tears flowed for Conway girls soccer coach Whitney Allison like the points did in the second half in the Class 7A semifinal.
Allison, a former standout player, was holding back tears as she talked to reporters after Monday’s 4-0 victory over Fort Smith Southside that secured a spot in Saturday’s 2 p.m. state championship game at Fayetteville.
“I started crying about our third goal,” she said. “When you know these kids like I do, you know the work they have put in, the running they have down and the hearts they have and you know how much they want it. These girls have dedicated themselves all year to be state champions and they showed that heart on the field the second half.
“I’m the luckiest coach on the planet.”
The Lady Cats (21-0) scored all four goals in a 21-minute period the second half.
“We knew they (the Lady Rebels) pout a lot of numbers up at midfield,” she said. “We made some slight technical adjustments the second half. We stressed from the beginning we had to get the ball past their midfield. We had some chances the first half.”
After several scoring opportunities in the first half either misfired or went right at Southside keeper Meredith Pitsch, the Lady Cats zeroed in on the target the second half and pulled away.
It started when Caitlyn Carroll sent a corner kick high in front of the net and Julia Pettit timed things nicely on a header to put the ball in the corner of the net in the seventh minute.
“That set a tone for the second half,” Allison said. “Julia’s kind of short and they left her open and they paid the price.”
In the 13th minute, Morgan Woodward chipped nicely on shot about 17 yards out and the ball sailed over the keeper’s head to give Conway a 2-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Brooke Ballard found herself with a one-on-one opportunity in the box and put in past the keeper to effectively put the game away. Carroll added some insurance in the 21st minute on a nicely executed direct kick.
Conway keeper Brittanie Ashcraft made an outstanding save in the tightly played first half by leaping high by the corner of the net to turn back a shot by Lettie Hattabaugh.
It will be the first appearance for a Conway girls soccer team in the state championship game.