Tigers primed for state title run

Friday, May 3, 2019

By Scott Loftis


Everything seems to be lining up for the Green Forest Tigers to make a serious run at another state soccer championship.

Green Forest won the Class 4A championship in 2014, beating Central Arkansas Christian in the championship game.

Five years later, the two teams may be on a collision course for a rematch — this time in the Class 3A State Tournament that begins Thursday in Harrison.

Green Forest (13-1-2) went 10-0 in conference play on the way to the 3A West championship. The Tigers will play their first-round game at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 9, against the fourth seed from the 3A North — likely Buffalo Island Central or Conway Christian.

CAC, the top seed from the 3A East, is on the other side of the tournament bracket, meaning the Tigers and Mustangs won’t meet until the championship game if both advance.

“Everything looks good for us,” Green Forest coach Ben West said. “We’re on a good side of the bracket even.”

The Tigers also won’t have to endure a long road trip this time around.

“Harrison is a huge plus for us,” West said. “Of course, we might still have to face (CAC) but it wouldn’t be until the finals, so that’s a good problem to have.”

West said the Tigers haven’t peaked just yet.

“I’m feeling good about it,” he said. “We’re still getting better.”

The Tigers finished the regular season with a 3-1 victory over Decatur on Monday. Bryant Escobar, Kelvin Garcia and Emerson Ortiz all scored goals for Green Forest.

“The Decatur game went really well,” West said. “We actually scored their one for them. We had a lot of shots on goal.”

By the time they play their first-round state tournament game, the Tigers will have had nine days off from game action, but West said he isn’t concerned that will affect his team.

“We’ve had so much rain,” he said. “We’re going to practice on a wet field today. You’d like to play one (game) in that time frame. I think we’ll be OK. We’ll be working on sharpening our skills.”

The Green Forest girls team beat Decatur 7-0 on Monday to close out the regular season. The Lady Tigers (8-6, 4-0) also won a 3A West conference championship and will be a No. 1 seed in the state tournament. Green Forest’s girls will play a first-round game at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 9, in Harrison against the No. 4 seed from the 3A North.

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