FAYETTEVILLE — For the first time in the storied Harrison soccer history, the Harrison Lady Goblins are back-to-back winners of state championships.
Friday afternoon, during a rainy day in Fayetteville, Harrison defeated Maumelle, 3-1, to claim the Class 5A State Soccer Tournament title.
It didn’t take Harrison long to get started. Senior Kaleigh Harris was hanging around the goal and scored from the right side after taking a pass from Stella Krone.
That score took place just 96 seconds into the game. The score set the first half tone for the Lady Goblins.
“Scoring early certainly helped a bunch,” said Harrison coach Chris Pratt. “Sometimes in state finals the first goal is the only goal. This was a weird year with our game being one of the closest games of the state finals. That goal got us rolling and allowed us to be able to pressure them like we wanted.”
Maumelle, who boasted a roster with 11 seniors, didn’t give up. They showed their veteran spirit and attacked Harrison with two shots on goal in the next 6 minutes of play.
Each time they were turned away and Harrison’s offense started the click.
Over the next 16 minutes, the Lady Goblins had five shots on goal. Krone and Brylie Parker had two each and Claire Doshier had the fifth with 15:56 left in the first half.
That play kept the ball on Harrison’s offensive end of the field and a minute later it led to a corner kick.
Harrison won its semifinal game against Valley View in the 92nd minute on a corner kick. This time the Lady Goblins pulled the trick again.
Parker took the kick and Doshier used her 6-foot-0 frame to head the ball into the goal to give the Lady Goblins a 2-0 lead.
“We have scored quite a few goals off of corners, free kicks and throw ins,” said the coach. “We have done that more this year than what we have in the past.
“Most of the time, these goals come down to the person that starts off with the ball,” continued Pratt. “If you have a player or players like we do that can get the ball to the right spot, then you just have to have someone willing to finish it or at least be in the right place at the time. I guess we scored six-to-12 times off of corners this year.”
The Lady Goblin celebration was short-lived.
Maumelle cut the lead in half at the 12:31 mark with a goal after a Harrison miscue on defense.
“Their goal began with a turnover around midfield,” said Pratt. “It was definitely gifted by us rather than earned by Maumelle. After the turnover, we didn’t defend the way we needed to, which allowed their player to get a quality shot on goal. Their player placed it well and didn’t give Makayla (Campbell) much of a chance at it.”
Harrison continued its aggressive play on the offensive end after the Lady Hornets scored.
The Lady Goblins got a shot on goal from Jaycee Keylon with 9:27 left in the first half. However, just 24 seconds later, an unassisted shot from Parker about 25 yards out found the net and found Harrison leading, 3-1.
“The best response we had to their goal was to get our third 9 minutes before half,” said the coach. “That allowed us a great opportunity to make a few subs and get some extra rest for the girls that had been out there. I am very proud of the efforts of those girls that came in late in the half. We were a bit unlucky not to get a fourth goal just before half.”
Getting two shots on goal from Lady Goblin Mattie Richardson, Harrison had one last corner kick with 1:47 left in the first half. They were unsuccessful on the kick and settled for their 3-1 lead at halftime.
In the first half, Harrison had 11 shots on goal and four corner kicks compared to Maumelle’s three shots on goal and no corners.
The second 40 minutes was a different half.
Maumelle was not going away. While Harrison keeper Campbell had an easy first half, she earned her keep in the second half.
In the first 20 minutes, she stopped all seven Maumelle shots on goal and kept the Lady Hornets honest on four corner kicks.
At the 20:05 mark of the second half, the clouds opened and lightning filled the sky. There was a 53-minute delay with the weather.
After coming back on the field and a 5 minute warm-up period, the Lady Goblins had to withstand more offensive pressure from Maumelle. The Lady Hornets got a shot on goal at the 18:18 mark and then had a direct kick with 14:44 left. Campbell caught the ball, saving another point.
The Lady Hornets had two corner kicks in the last 20 minutes and one almost scored for Maumelle. The Lady Hornets kicked the ball to one of their players who headed the ball toward the goal as Campbell slipped and fell on the wet grass. The ball went over the goal and gave the Lady Goblins the ball back.
“I think that Maumelle stepped up a whole bunch in the second half,” said Pratt. “Down 3-1, they didn’t have much of a choice if they wanted to win. We struggled a bit winning some of the battles that we had won in the first half and that made us play a lot more on our end.
“I don’t think the momentum went their way until we came out in the second half,” concluded the coach.
After only three shots in the first half, Maumelle added 12 in the second half compared to Harrison’s four shots on goal. The Lady Hornets had six corners and Harrison had one.
“I am so proud of the job our captains and seniors did leading this fairly young group of players this year,” said Pratt of his team. “A lot of dreams came true this year. I have to say a big thank you to Coach (Devon) Boswell, our trainers Ashley (Nordin) and Mandy (Kisinger), all of the parents, volunteers and fans.”
Harrison finishes the season with a 16-7-1 record.
Team members include: Makayla Campbell; Grace Martin; Katie Fowler; Brylie Parker; Anna Marchi; Makensie Gage; Liz Shirley; Kenzie Parker; Mattie Richardson; Jaycie Keylon; Kaitlyn Pratt; Shaylee Cagle; Josie Rudelis; Stella Krone; Michi Gentile; Claire Doshier; Kaylee Parker; Kaleigh Harris; Sarah Eddings; Justice Ford; Grace Brandt, manager; and Torye Tate, manager. The team is coached by Pratt and Devon Boswell.