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Boys Soccer: Har-Ber cruises past Conway, will face rival Springdale in semifinals

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Photographs by David Gottschalk

Springdale Har-Ber’s Jimmy Araujo (6) contends with Conway’s Brady Rosenow (25) and Evan Trimble for a ball Friday during the 7A 2017 State Soccer Tournament at Mayo-Thompson Stadium at Fort Smith Northside High School.

FORT SMITH -- For a second consecutive season, Springdale Har-Ber has played its way into the Class 7A boys state semifinals.

And, like last year, the Wildcats (17-3) will face rival Springale High with a trip to the state finals on the line.

CLASS 7A BOYS STATE SOCCER TOURNAMENT

Today’s matches

Semifinals

Rogers High vs. Rogers Heritage, 10 a.m.

Springdale High vs. Springdale Har-Ber, noon

The Wildcats' 2017 run was less taxing than a season ago when 4-seed Har-Ber came up a match short of playing for the school's first state championship. In the first match of the day, host Fort Smith Northside, the 7A-Central's 1-seed, fell to Rogers Heritage, 2-1, in overtime.

Har-Ber, the West's 1-seed, kept its title hopes alive and cruised to a 2-0 win against Conway (11-11-1).

"It would have been a lot nicer if we could have put away some of those early chances," Har-Ber coach Cory Butler said. "But that last (goal) was good because it gave us a chance to rest a few players and be a little more at ease."

Down arguably its top goal-scorer in Jesus Zizumbo, Esteban and Ivan Fuentes keyed Har-Ber's quarterfinal win, scoring a goal apeice. Esteban Fuentes kicked off the scoring late in the first half, taking a pass from Ivan Fuentes in the box and finding the net.

The score stood until late in the second half when Ivan Fuentes sealed the win with 12 minutes, 12 seconds to play.

"He's pretty quick," Butler said of Ivan. "Once he gets going it's hard for them to catch him. He got a good first step and got around the guy and finished it."

Har-Ber's defense, as it has been a majority of its season, was strong once again. The 2-0 win was the Wildcats' eighth shut-out win of the season and fourth in their last five matches. Har-Ber and Springdale tied for the fewest goals allowed (12) in conference matches this season.

"The defense is playing solid. They're playing smart," Butler said. "They're playing composed and not giving other teams many chances, and it's helping us offensively with them playing as well as they are."

Springdale's win against Little Rock Catholic also assured today's semifinals would consist of all 7A-West teams for a second straight year.

"It's a tough conference," he said of the play of the 7A-West. "Every game in conference you can tell its tough. It's a battle nonstop. They're coming out and playing well -- all of us."

Har-Ber and Springdale kick off at noon today for a spot in the state championship match. The teams split two conference meetings during the regular season with the visiting team winning each match.

Rogers Heritage 2, Fort Smith Northside 1 (2OT)

Pedro Garcia and the War Eagles (14-5) stunned host Northside Friday at Mayo-Thompson Stadium to advance to the class 7A state semifinals. Heritage will face Rogers High today at 10 a.m.

With six minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, Garcia found the net for his second goal of the day. The senior forward also tied the match, 1-1, with 29 minutes to play in regulation after the Grizzlies carried a 1-0 lead into halftime.

Garcia, who scored twice in a 5-3 win vs. FS Southside Thursday, has scored four goals in Heritage's two state tournament wins. Northside's season comes to a close at 19-3.

Rogers High 1, Bryant 0

Mounties junior Willie Hernandez's goal with 28 minutes, 40 seconds left in regulation held up, lifting Rogers to today's state semifinals against rival Rogers Heritage.

Hernandez added a bit of personal flare to his post-goal celebration as he somersaulted into a backflip. The Mounties improved to 14-5 overall this season, while Bryant closed its season with a 12-8-1 mark.

Springdale High 3, Little Rock Catholic 1

Springdale's offense was stifled by the Rockets for the better part of 65 minutes Friday. Then the Red'Dogs flipped the switch, easing their way to a seventh consecutive win and today's semifinals matchup with rival Har-Ber.

The Red'Dogs (17-5) scored three goals in a four minute, 15 second span in the second half against Catholic to grab its second win in as many days. Salvador Gonzalez knotted the match, 1-1, then, 41 seconds later, Jessie Gomez's goal gifted Springdale a 2-1 lead. And with 11:22 to play, Manuel Soto sealed the match.

Ivan Gault scored the lone goal of the match for Catholic (12-4-1) less than 10 minutes into the second half.

Sports on 05/13/2017

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