Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SPORTS >> Searcy soccer rolls to national top 50

Searcy foward Steven Seitz, 20, leads the Lions in goals scored this season.


Leader sportswriter

Searcy head soccer coach Bronco King’s explanation of the Lions’ recent success is a standard nuts and bolts answer, but it also hints that four years of Class 6A domination won’t end in the foreseeable future.

Youth soccer in Searcy has been popular since early 1990s, and with the Lions and Lady Lions winning a combined five state championship trophies the last three seasons, King believes the game’s popularity is still growing.

“That is one big thing in the Searcy area is our youth soccer leagues,” King said. “When we play, and you look over and see the little ones over there playing on their fields, you can see the interest is just taking off. It’s just funneled up through the years, and now we’re seeing success with our high-school programs.”

King lost eight seniors off his 6A state championship team of 2009. But with a new group of leaders, a top-50 national ranking by ESPN and a stellar, 14-1-1 record, the Lions, 4-0 in the 6A-East with two games remaining, could be on their way to a fourth conference title.

“That’s a credit to those young men on this team,” King said. “They all started in grade school and have kept it going. They’ve put in a lot of hard work, and now it’s paying off. The guys do asuper job of getting to practice and staying focused.”

Goalkeeper Will Lynn is a senior captain for the Lions. At 6-3, 215 pounds, Lynn provides a big obstacle for opponents, whenever they can get to him.

“He is a presence in front of the goal,” King said. “He can get to just about every ball; he’s only been scored on two or three times this year. The rest have been shutouts. Our backfield defense is so strong he doesn’t see a whole lot of action, but when he does, he’s ready.”

Jared Harriman is the Lions’ other senior captain, and is half of a midfielder duo that includes Isai Garcia.

“Those two are what make our team go,” King said. “They do a great job of moving the ball and finding the open player.”

Defensively, King said the lineup of Andrew Moore and James Adkins, along with seniors Trey Oliveto and Ben Buterbaugh, has been reliable all season. Offensively, forward Steven Seitz is leading the Lions in goals scored.

With the start of the 6A state soccer tournament two weeks away, the Lions are preparing to defend their three-straight state titles and continue their legacy.

“We have five seniors this year, but we had 14 freshmen who came in,” King said. “These freshmen will take the examples the seniors set for them and use that down the road. It just gets handed down year to year.”