FAYETTEVILLE — It has been a roller coaster ride for the Harrison Goblin soccer team.
Monday, the squad will get off the ride with some form of tournament hardware. Hopefully, the team will earn the championship trophy.
Harrison will play Valley View at 4 p.m. on the campus of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. The game was postponed from Saturday until Monday due to forecasted inclement weather on Saturday.
“They are a great group of guys that get along better than any guy team I have coached,” said Harrison coach Chris Pratt. “They have worked their way through three losing seasons and a ton of adversity this year to complete their final goal of a state championship.”
Facing Valley View will be a tough challenge.
“Valley View is a mix of players that have gelled very well since their state tournament run began,” said Pratt. “They are playing well and have the same beliefs as us that they can win the game. They have some very talented soccer players and play some sound tactical soccer. If we are impatient or panic, they can take advantage of situations quickly.”
The Blazers have a full bag of tricks for the Goblins to see.
“Offensively, they will be a mix of services into our defensive third,” said Pratt. “They have some penetration through the dribble and quick passing. We will have to stay on our toes quite often and play sound group defense.”
The Blazers have strong play in the center of the field.
“They are solid in the midfield,” stated the coach. “Their formation is similar to ours, but with a different purpose. They move the ball well and quickly look to find their goal scorers in space.”
Defensively, the Blazers have been scored on in the state tournament.
“They gave up two to DeQueen in the quarters,” said Pratt. “Their defense is good, but not any better than ours. I think that we can create some mismatches and hope to take advantage of those situations.”
While the Goblins have intentions to win the game, the team will draw from its experience in the finals.
“Sure there is some pressure to win,” said Pratt. “You have a lineup full of upperclassmen with some playing in their last soccer game they will ever play.”
Pratt pointed to the key to victory in the championship game.
“Just like the girls, execution is huge,” he said. “We have to continue to finish like we have been. These guys know what needs to get done. We are focused intently on making it happen.”
Team members include: Hunter Holtby; Corbin Simpson; Kaden Jones; Jacob Shrum; Rilee Jones; Hunter Thompson; Max Payne; Spencer Bailey; Dylan Wilson; Logan Walden; Seabastian Diffey; Caleb Bartlett; Brock Bardwell; Harris Groberg; Connor Phillips; Isaac Guynn; Will Bryant; Huntly Wagner; Jackob Wardlaw; and Gaitlin James. The head coach is Chris Pratt and the assistant coach is Evan Cowling. Team managers are Devon Mitchell and Sebastian Lopez.