Tigers look for revenge in 2018
The Green Forest soccer team lost in a penalty kick shootout to Little Rock Episcopal in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament last year. The Tigers also lost at Dardanelle in the regular season and the Sand Lizards went on to win the Class 4A state championship. Coach Jonathan Bryant is using those losses as motivation moving into 2018.
"I keep telling my guys that we lost to the defending 4A state champions by one penalty kick last year," Bryant said. "We were the only team that played them as well as they were played and that was at their place."
Huvense Rivas, Jose Hernandez, Rodolph Canoy, Carlos Lemus and Carlos Herrarte all graduated last year, but Bryant is looking forward to what this year's group will bring to the table.
"We lost some of our key players, but the good thing around here is that we always have some waiting to come in," Bryant said. "It's not one of those where we can replace the talent that we lost, but we are definitely heading in the right direction."
Some of the players that return from last year's team include Jose Hernandez, Urbano Reyes, Kevin Lopez, Bryant Escobar and Edson Merida. The Tigers are going with two goalies this year in Elber Lopez and Rafael Rosales. Despite those players returning, Bryant knew he was going to have to change some things up after graduating seven seniors.
"I have changed up our formation this year," Bryant said. "We are no longer in the 4-4-2. We are trying to control the middle of the field and I think with the formation I have us in, we will be able to do that."
The Tigers are challenging themselves this season by playing the likes of Springdale Har-Ber, Siloam Springs, Rogers and playing in the Harrison tournament.
"We are playing Har-Ber's JV, but they were nationally ranked last year," Bryant said. "They draw from their JV program, so those guys are going to be good. We get in that Harrison tournament and we are scheduled to play a 5A, 6A and 7A varsity team. We are a little 3A school. We are going to play Mountain Home, who was state runner-up last year in 6A. We are also going to play the defending state champions in 6A with Siloam Springs. I have set us up this year with a very hard non conference schedule, but I did that on purpose because I wanted to see what we were made of. I wanted to see what we would look like against tougher opponents so it would help us get ready for the conference season and then postseason after that."
Green Forest's season started Thursday with a road match at Mountain Home.