The Harrison Lady Goblins are back in their natural place.
Harrison will compete on Saturday against Pulaski Academy for the championship of the Class 4A State Soccer Tournament. The game will be played in Fayetteville on the campus of the University of Arkansas.
There are 10 senior players and two senior managers that are ready to represent Goblin Nation. Harrison has been in two of the last three state finals and they left Fayetteville with championships.
The team is very competitive and work well together.
“Collectively, this team has a strong desire to win and since all of us seniors have been together since we were tiny, we want to come out on top one last time,” said forward Mattie Richardson. “We all have great chemistry which is very important.”
Playing together for many years has created a bond for the team.
“The team we have this year is extremely close,” said fullback Sarah Eddings. “The majority of us have grown up and been playing for years together. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well. I think that has really benefited us throughout this season and it allowed us to succeed.”
Team manager Ella Rush spoke about the closeness of the group and coming into the program later than the others.
“This team is incredibly close as I know the majority of the seniors have spent their entire childhood playing together,” she said. “So it is a blessing to be accepted and loved no matter how long we’ve known each other.”
Gracie Brandt is the other team manager, but is connected to the group.
“As a manager, one might expect me to be on the outskirts,” she said. “But, this is far from true. Every single girl on and off the field is a part of this family. Our bond is something that transverses the aspects of talent, starting players, age and any other separation. We have so much love for each other and that is seen in our continual support in all arenas of life.”
Harrison will be playing the Lady Bruins at 2 p.m. The Lady Goblins lost to the Lady Bruins in the semifinals of last year’s tournament.
“After losing to them in the semifinals last year, and then watching them beat us in an intense football game this year, there is definitely revenge on our mind,” said Grace Martin. “We have been preparing for this game all season and we made it. It is our turn one last time.”
Defender Katie Fowler remembers last season.
“I believe everyone that was on the team last year has found the determination to take on PA this year,” she said. “Last year was such a hard blow, but I think it may have been just what we needed to light a spark underneath all of us to play with all we’ve got this Saturday.”
The Harrison defense has been solid all season. They have to be ready for the Lady Bruin attack.
“I expect Pulaski Academy to throw everything they’ve got at us,” said Eddings. “I expect them to take shots from many yards out, as well as play through balls to the forwards.
“Defensively, we are going to have to buckle down and put high pressure on anyone and everyone,” she continued. “We have to limit their opportunities to score.”
Pulaski Academy is a strong team that has many strengths. The Lady Goblins will be ready for those.
“Our opponents strength would be that they have really good forwards,” said Justice Ford. “They can put great pressure on the ball.”
Harrison’s offense has been very effective this season and will have to be on Saturday. The Lady Goblins have a plan to make the Lady Bruin defense work.
“We plan to out work Pulaski Academy physically and mentally,” said Kaitlyn Pratt. “I’m confident in this team and their abilities as long as we come out playing our best game. I’m not too worried about their defense.”
Harrison has many intangible assets as a squad.
“The Lady Goblins’ strength is the team bond,” said Brylie Parker. “Every person contributes to every game no matter the position on or off the field. Our unity and chemistry is unbreakable.”
Those words were echoed by Fowler.
“Our strength as a team is our unity,” she said. “We have all grown up playing together (for the most part) which is a very important factor to our success. Knowing your teammates on such a deep level is so beneficial to the game.”
Martin pointed to the key to winning.
“The key to winning is giving all you have in each game and staying involved with each other on the field,” she said. “Our team is very close and involved in each other’s lives and I think that is key in winning games. Team chemistry is vital, and we have that covered.”
This senior Lady Goblin class has been in two state finals. The team hopes to draw from that experience.
“We have spent all year preparing for this game,” said Pratt. “I think the pressure just adds to the excitement and drive to win.”
Richardson thinks the team is ready for the pressure.
“We are definitely prepared to take on this great pressure,” she said. “We all have a desire to win and I think because we want it so bad we will come out on fire.”
Winning another state title would be exciting for the team.
“A championship would mean so much to me because of the last 15 or so years,” said Parker. “The senior class has been together since kindergarten and finishing our senior year with another state championship would be so incredible. Also, it would be so amazing to see the younger classes get to experience such a surreal moment.”
Ford realizes this is the team’s last game.
“This being my senior year, winning the championship would mean everything to me as it will be my last game,” she said.
No matter the outcome of the game, the Lady Goblin seniors will be family forever.
“Even though I’ve only been a manager on the team for the past two years,” started Rush, “this team has become a family to me. Winning as a team and losing as a team has taught me everything about teamwork and camaraderie and I’m so grateful for the lifelong friendships the team has brought me.”
Brandt summed up the Harrison team.
“This team means the world to me,” said Brandt. “They have shaped me into the woman I am today as encouragers, comforters, inspirations, teachers and most importantly, friends. I can’t imagine my life without these girls. All I know is that it couldn’t begin to compare to the joy I’ve found in Lady Goblin soccer.”
Team members include: Makayla Campbell; Olivia Pall; Katie Fowler; Brylie Parker; Brynn Oleson; Makensie Gage; Marion Groberg; Kenzie Parker; Mattie Richardson; Sydney Shrum; Kaitlyn Pratt; Kaitlyn Bridges; Shaylee Cagle; Maggie Salmon; Nina Krone; Claire Doshier; Tenelle Tate; Grace Martin; Sarah Eddings; Kylie Anderson; Riley Richardson; Brooke Boyd; Justice Ford; Elise Bell; and Natalia Lopez. The team is coach by Chris Pratt, head coach, and Devin Boswell. The managers are Ella Rush and Grace Brandt.