Central Arkansas Christian’s soccer teams will have to wait to bring another state soccer title to Mustang Mountain.
Both teams, top seeds from their respective 3A-South conferences, lost to Green Forest in the semifinals of the Class 3A State Tournament at Burns Park last week.
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Green Forest will face Harding Academy in the state championship matches at the Benton Athletic Complex at 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, weather permitting.
Billy Sullivan’s first full season with the Mustangs ended 11-4-2, one win shy of advancing to the state title game.
“The end of the season is always so hard to accurately judge because ending with a loss is so disappointing,” Sullivan said. “Overall, I think we got everything we could out of our team.”
The Mustangs knocked off Lincoln in the opening round of the tournament, 4-0, but lost one of their senior centerbacks, Ethan DeMarco, to an injury. They beat Cave City in the quarterfinals, 3-2; before falling to Green Forest in the semis, 4-0.
“We were a different team after Ethan went down against Lincoln,” Sullivan said. “Thankfully, we had some guys step up. Isaac Rine’s game-winning penalty (kick against Cave City) was massive, and I’m proud of our guys for fighting to the very end.
“We would not have struggled against Cave City as much if (DeMarco) was fully healthy, and I think the injuries caught up to us against Green Forest. All credit to Green Forest for playing an outstanding game, and I think Saturday’s matchup against Harding Academy is a total tossup.”
CAC knocked off Harding Academy in a non-conference game in March, 3-1. Green Forest enters the title game 21-0-1; Harding Academy is 12-2-1.
The Mustangs will graduate seniors DeMarco, Zachary Fry, Andrew Donaghy, Jackson Richmond and Hunter Pilgreen.
“While it won’t be easy to replace them, we have a solid core group returning and some freshmen coming in that can make an immediate impact,” Sullivan said.
CAC previously won state boys titles in 2008, ‘15 and ‘19. The Mustangs finished runner-up in 2013 and ‘14.
Carter Lambert’s team closed 9-3-1.
CAC, which had an opening-round bye in the state tournament, beat Conway St. Joseph in the quarterfinals, 7-0; before falling to Green Forest in the semifinals, 3-2.
The Lady Mustangs’ first loss of the season came at Harding Academy in March, 5-0. According to www.scorebooklive.com, Harding Academy enters the championship game 8-2; Green Forest is 7-1.
CAC had been chasing a 10th state title following championships in 2006, ‘07, ‘08, ‘12, ‘13, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19.
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