The Harrison senior boys soccer team is a story of tenacity.
After being plagued by losing seasons, the team is now fighting for a chance to be on top of the Class 4A. Saturday, the Goblins lineup against Valley View in the finals of the Class 4A State Soccer Tournament. The game will be at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville beginning at 4 p.m.
This team is has stuck together through the adversity to get to Saturday.
“They are a great group of guys that get along better than any guy team I have coached,” said veteran 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.”
Seniors dominate the Harrison lineup and Pratt feels that the team’s development over the season has come from the Class of 2019.
“Most of them played huge roles for four years, just like the girls,” said Pratt of the seniors. “A lot of them have really come into their own this year and have helped on both sides of the ball.
“They are an unselfish group that does everything for the betterment of the team,” continued the coach. “They don’t worry what they are going to get as an individual.”
This Goblin team created a situation for Pratt. The team wiped out their early season goals so the team had to meet again.
“These guys have been ready for this game all season,” he said. “I would not let them set winning a title in their original goals. Close to the mid-point of the season, we had achieved every goal but one. So we set new ones. They just keep finding ways to win games.”
Harrison is letting its defense do the talking on the field. The Goblins are 21-4-1 and have not lost a game since April 1, when the team fell to Fayetteville, 1-0.
During their 14-game winning streak, the Goblins have allowed only four goals during that time frame. They have outscored their opponents, 55-4. The Goblins have not yielded a goal during state tournament action.
After defeated Brookland, 2-0, in the opening round of the tournament, the team took down Pulaski Academy by a 1-0 mark to advance to the semifinals.
Just like the Brookland contest, the Goblins scored two second half goals to take down Batesville in the semifinals, 2-0.
The Goblins have claimed six state titles over the years, however it has been a while since the team played for a title.
“It has been a long while,” said Pratt. “Six years since we have had the opportunity to play for a title.”
Goblin soccer has produced some dominating teams in the past.
This year’s squad is one win away from the record books. The team is 20-4-1 and one more win would tie the squad for the most wins in school history.
“Like the girls, the boys have set records for the most wins in a season,” he said. “So this is a pretty big deal.”
Valley View (outside of Jonesboro) is a familiar name to the Harrison program. The Lady Goblins have been the thorn in the Lady Blazer’s side for the last few years. However, the boys have played the Blazers in Harrison’s tournament.
“We actually played Valley Views consistently in the ReMax Cup back about four or five years ago,” said Pratt of his future opponent. “Most of those games were tightly contested. I am not sure that this will be the start of a rivalry, but it will be a fun game to watch.”
Pratt expressed a desire to see heavy support for the Goblins.
“We would like to see a big crowd,” he said. “These gentlemen have done it the right way and worked their way up from nothing to something. We are one game away from a lot of dreams being fulfilled.”
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.