GREEN FOREST — It doesn’t take long to observe the Green Forest Tiger’s senior boys soccer team and notice the connection that they have with each other.
When the 3A-West top-seeded Tigers defeated Harding Academy by a 6-1 score on Saturday to advance to the Class 3A State Soccer Tournament finals, they celebrated as one big family.
Family is the overriding theme when talking to the seniors about what the team means to them.
Green Forest head soccer coach Ben West commented about the camaraderie with the team, “They provide the atmosphere, give each other direction and add plenty of entertainment in the group.”
Walking through a soccer practice with this squad is not short of laughter. Over the course of the season and even in times prior, the team has come together as a group.
“This team means a lot to me,” senior defender Franklin Morales commented. “They are my second family and I love every single person who is a part of this team.”
Senior striker Kevin Lopez shares the same sentiment, “This team is a family to me. Some have been with us for four years and others just this past year, but I would still do anything for them.”
The group is very tight knit and has been through a lot together.
“This team has introduced me to people I have never met,” said midfielder Miguel Preciado. “Over the past season, we have created everlasting memories that I will always cherish. I am honored to have met these guys and call them family.”
The Tigers have put together a 16-1-2 record on the season and senior forward Randi Alvarado noted that, “we have gotten closer throughout the season.”
Green Forest allowed only two goals during the three rounds played in the Class 3A State Tournament thus far and have found the net a total of 20 times.
They are now only one game away from their goal and the group has learned from their journey to this point.
“Nothing is achieved without hard work and determination,” noted Preciado. “It has also taught me to have a little fun while achieving your goals.”
Morales commented about what he has learned from this Tigers squad.
“Being part of this team has taught me that hard work and dedication pays off. It also has shown me that when you work as a team and you have one goal and one mind, you can accomplish your dreams.”
The group knows that it’s not all about one player and that it takes the whole team to be successful. Lopez mentioned, “I’ve learned to trust my teammates and to have faith in each other.”
West finished by commenting about the unity that exists with his team.
“Every single member of this team loves the game and each other. That is huge. This is a great group to be associated with, I’m very proud of them.”
Green Forest is paired against the Mustangs of Central Arkansas Christian. CAC is the top seed from 3A-East. Both teams will meet on Saturday at 12 p.m. on Razorback Field on the campus of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Team members of the Tiger soccer team include: Fredy Juarez Jr.; Caesar Lopez; David Aguinaga; Jordy DeLeon; Jesus Flores; Collin Delavin; Lah Kpro; Pablo Leon; Bryan Soto; Randi Alvarado; Kevin Lopez; Kelvin Garcia; Andy Lopez; Allen Deleon; Bryant Escobar; Genaro Ochoa; Miguel Preciado; Emerson Ortiz; Johnathan Valdez; Franklin Morales; Gage Lowe; Jovanny Salazar; Aron Divall; Eli Maroquin; and Llelfer Vasquez. Abel Salazar, Eduardo Garcia and Alex Merida are the team managers. The team is coached by head coach Ben West and assistant coach, Fernando Fuentes.
Soccer Championships — Razorback Field
Friday, May 17
5A Boys 10 a.m. Russellville vs. Siloam Springs
5A Girls 12 p.m. Little Rock Christian vs. Russellville
6A Boys 2 p.m. Springdale vs. Bryant
6A Girls 4 p.m. Bryant vs. Conway
Saturday, May 18
3A Girls 10 a.m. Central Ark. Christian vs. Harding Academy
3A Boys 12 p.m. Central Ark. Christian vs. Green Forest
4A Girls 2 p.m. Pulaski Academy vs. Harrison
4A Boys 4 p.m. Valley View vs. Harrison