FAYETTEVILLE — High school sports will be coming to a close on Monday and only the best teams in the state will be playing.
Games originally scheduled for Saturday have been moved to Monday due to expected inclement weather.
The Tigers of Green Forest will clash with the Mustangs of Central Arkansas Christian on the soccer field for the Class 3A State Soccer Tournament championship. The event will take place in Fayetteville on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Razorback Field with the first kick set for 12 p.m.
Green Forest enters the game with a 16-1-2 record including nine shutouts. The Tigers are currently riding an eight-game winning streak. Green Forest represents the No. 1 seed from the 3A-West and have outscored their opponents by a 20-2 difference in their three-game run through the state tournament.
Central Arkansas Christian is the top seed from the 3A-East and are 14-3 on the season. The Mustangs have rallied after losing three-straight games dating back to early April by taking a 12-game winning streak into the state finals.
The two teams have shared common opponents over the season. Both teams have defeated Harding Academy. Green Forest defeated the Wildcats by a 3-1 score in its previous game to get into the championship. CAC won their match against Harding Academy in a 2-1 game at home in late March.
The other common thread is games against Decatur. The Tigers have defeated the Bulldogs twice this season. Both games were in late April with Green Forest taking 4-1 and 3-1 victories. CAC won its contest with Decatur by a 6-0 mark in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Both teams won their semifinal matchup last Saturday to reach the finals and the week-long wait hasn’t changed the emotion building up to the game for the players.
“We set this as our goal. We are really upbeat and excited about the opportunity to compete for a state championship,” noted Green Forest head coach Ben West about the morale of the team.
During the Tigers’ current eight-game winning streak, they have defeated their opponents by an average of 3.6 goals per game. The Carroll County team has scored 71 goals on the season and hope to take that offensive intensity into the final game.
“Well, if there is a peak, then we are at it at the right time,” West commented. “More than that, we are just having a blast while playing hard.”
Green Forest is led by a pair of captains. Senior Franklin Morales and junior Bryant Escobar keep the game physical and upbeat according to the coach.
Freshman Fredy Juarez Jr. will be in the goal for the Tigers. The coach quickly responded when asked if there were any concerns about a freshman being goalkeeper.
“Fredy is the best goalie in 3A soccer.”
West also had observations about the upcoming opponent.
“CAC is a big, strong and an aggressive team. They pass really well and are a very well put together team with good discipline. They squeeze the ball hard with multiple defenders and make it tough to keep the ball.”
CAC has been able to put the ball in the net during the season with 54 total goals.
The coach commented about how they will try to stop the Mustang offense, “We will pursue with additional defenders. They desire a one-on-one situation so we intend to not provide that opportunity.”
Green Forest makes a lot of changes during the course of a game and the coach plans to keep it that way.
“We are constantly changing formations and adding to offense and defense. These boys are very knowledgeable about our schemes.”
West had high praises for his assistant coach as well.
“Fernando Fuentes is a master builder of our formations and schemes. We owe him great deal of appreciation and gratitude.
“This is a great group to be associated with,” continued the coach. “I’m very proud of them.
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.