Bobcats, Tigers win soccer openers at state
CARROLL COUNTY -- The two 3A public schools to squeak through into the Arkansas state high school playoffs stunned bigger 4A squads Saturday, winning slots in Monday's quarterfinals.
Berryville, which finished third in the western 3A/4A conference, beat Little Rock Mills 6-1 in what would have been a shut-out, except that Berryville sent in the entire bench in the final half.
"The field was good, although there were a couple of standing puddles," BHS coach Tom Souden said. "But it was a lot better than last year. The grass was low, mowed good."
Berryville advanced to play Pulaski Academy at 3:30 on Monday, the same time that the Green Forest Tigers were playing Arkadelphia.
The Tigers stunned powerhouse Batesville 4-0 on Saturday, a team that had dominated the eastern division all season. Green Forest just made it to state, slipping in at fourth place in the western conference, a single point behind Berryville.
BOBCATS vs. LR MILLS
It didn't take long for brothers Luis and Jose Ramirez to put Berryville on the scoreboard, as they combined for the first goal of the game on a corner kick. Jose kicked in to Luis, who fired it right back as Jose charged the goal and scored.
Jorge Mojica got the second goal on a run-on, and Jose scored again from 15-yards out when he beat the defense, making it 3-0 Berryville at halftime.
In the second half, freshman Efren Trujillo banged in a goal from 8-yards out, then Luis scored from 18-yards out on a run-on.
Senior James Flores got the final goal on a penalty kick when Emilio Trujillo was fouled, giving him the shot.
"Kudos to C.J. Davis, who filled in for Trevor Gies, who was injured," Coach Souden said. "Walter Mata did a great job, and Nehemias Lopez had three or four saves at goal."
TIGERS vs. BATESVILLE
Most of the first half of the Green Forest-Batesville game was scoreless, with dramatic saves by Tiger goalkeeper Raul Pulido, a graduating senior.
"Raul saved our bacon over and over," marvelled Green Forest soccer coach Marc McCutcheon. "At least three times, it was a done deal --Batesville had beaten our defense and was shooting for a certain goal, but Pulido pulls off the impossible and there is no goal."
If there was another star of the game, it had to be graduating senior and co-captain Ernesto Pedraza, who directs much of the attack from center midfield. In a display of determination, Pedraza finally sank in the first goal that pulled Green Forest ahead just before halftime.
Sophomore standout Henry Pineda scored again early in the second half. But in the final 12 minutes of the match, Pedraza did it again -- twice -- for an unheard-of hat-trick, three goals in a single match, a rare event in state-level soccer.
"We had some troubles during the first half of the game," said assistant coach Juan Zuazua, "but we shut down Batesville's only real threat, No. 19, when we assigned Juan Pineda to mark him."
Senior Pineda matched the fast Batesville striker in speed and quickness, neutralizing him in the last half and giving goalkeeper Pulido an easier remainder of the game.