GF beats Eureka, players from both teams get hat trick
It's rare to see a player get a hat trick in a soccer match, let alone two players get one in the same match. That is what happened when Green Forest won 4-3 at Eureka Springs on Thursday night. Green Forest's Huvense Rivas and Eureka Springs' Oscar Mendez each recorded hat tricks.
"Huvense was amazing Thursday night," Green Forest coach Jonathan Bryant said. "He was all over the place. His leg is one of the strongest I have ever seen. He was just ripping it all over the place."
Green Forest's first goal came on a shot from Rivas. Edson Merida had the assist. Minutes later, Rivas made a penalty kick, extending the Green Forest lead to 2-0. Eureka Springs' Mendez wasn't going to let the Tigers walk away with the easy win, though. He made a shot from 15 yards out, giving Green Forest a 2-1 halftime lead.
"Their team does what he does," Bryant said. "If you shut him down, you shut their team down."
Green Forest's Carlos Lemus opened the second half with a goal from 15 yards out, giving the Tigers a two-goal lead minutes into the second half. Merida got his second assist of the game.
"Edson had two huge assists in the game," Bryant said. "He is our most improved player. He has figured out his role on offense and defense. I couldn't be prouder of him."
Mendez answered once again to draw the Highlanders within one. After firing a shot in the net from just across midfield, Mendez had drawn the Highlanders even with Green Forest at three. Rivas scored the final goal of the game on a breakaway opportunity to win, 4-3.
"We were just kind of lucky to win that game there at the end," Bryant said. "You don't want to take anything away from Eureka. They have a great team, not just one player. They could really be a sleeper team."
More than anything, Bryant was glad to see the Tigers put a complete game together.
"We played a little sloppy there in the second half, but we beat them overall," Bryant said.
Bryant said he feels as if his young team is beginning to figure things out, and if they are, they could be dangerous come tournament time.
"Our kids are starting to move in the right direction," Bryant said. "It could be interesting. We will really see what we are made of starting this week."
Green Forest has back-to-back home games starting Thursday with Subiaco Academy. On Friday, the Tigers host Huntsville. They travel to Berryville on Monday.
Eureka Springs will host Huntsville on Thursday.
Patrick Hunter finished the game with nine steals, while Jose Hernandez and Carlos Herrarte each had eight.