Saturday, May 01, 2010

SPORTS >> Local soccer teams northbound

Searcy forward McKenzie Clark
leads the team in goals.


Leader sportswriter

Local soccer teams have all headed north, at least the ones who qualified for postseason play.

The Cabot Panthers boys are in Rogers for the 7A state tournament while both Jacksonville teams and both Searcy teams made it to Mountain Home for the 6A tourney. Both teams for North Pulaski and Sylvan Hills qualified for the 5A state tournament at Harrison.

The Searcy teams received top seeds to the 6A state tournament.

The Lions, three-time defending Class 6A champions, await the winner of Friday’s match between Benton and Little Rock Parkview in a 4 p.m. match today, while the Lady Lions will play Friday’s Sheridan-West Memphis winner at 2 p.m. today.

The Lady Lions have also been to the state finals the past three seasons. They won the state championship in 2007 and 2008, but fell to Mountain Home 2-1 in last year’s championship.

Forward McKenzie Clark and mid-fielder Avery Albright have led the Lady Lions offensively this season, and head coach Larry Stamps also praised his team’s defense anchored by goalkeeper Aly Eaves.

“We knew at the end of last year that we wanted to get to the state finals,” Stamps said. “We had to settle for second last year, and we knew we didn’t want to do that anymore.”

Searcy goes into today’s match with a 15-4-2 overall record after going 7-0 in the 6A East for its third consecutive conference title.

Stamps wanted to give his team the edge in conference and postseason play, scheduling early matches against a number of bigger, 7A schools.

“We’ve got a really young team,” Stamps said. “We have seven freshmen, and a lot of them play. That has given us a strong bench, which is nice to have. I appreciate having that.”

The Jacksonville Red Devils, the No. 6 seed from the 6A East Conference, took on 6A South No. 3 seed Sheridan on Friday. The winner from that match will play tournament host and East No. 2 seed Mountain Home today at noon in the second-round quarterfinals.

The Lady Red Devils, also a No. 6 seed, will play Benton, the No. 3 seed from the South. The winner from that match will play East No. 2 seed Mountain Home at 10 a.m. in today’s quarterfinal round.

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears kicked off 5A tournament play with a noon match against Harrison. The Lady Bears earned the No. 4 seed out of the 5A Southeast Conference and found themselves in a tough early draw against the Lady Goblins, the top-seeded team out of the 5A West.

North Pulaski, the No. 3 seed out of the 5A Southeast, took on West No. 2 seed Greenbrier Friday night.

On the boys side, North Pulaski, the No. 4 seed out of the 5A Southeast Conference, took on 5A West Conference No. 1 seed Harrison on Friday. Sylvan Hills took the No. 2 seed in the Southeast and faced West No. 3 seed Greenwood Friday night.

Cabot earned the No. 5 seed from the 7A Central Conference and played 7A West No. 4 seed Fort Smith Southside on Friday night. The winner of that game will face 7A Central champion Russellville today at 2 p.m.