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Springdale thrives in tight spots

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Photographs by Ben Goff

Reese Graham (19) of Bryant turns away as Salvador Gonzalez of Springdale kicks the ball away from the Springdale goal Friday during a Class 7A boys state soccer tournament second-round game at Rogers Heritage. Springdale won 3-2 to advance to play Fort Smith Northside in a semifinal at 10 a.m. today.

ROGERS -- Springdale on Friday continued its season-long tendency of winning close games.

Jose Vega scored two goals and Michael Martinez one to lead Springdale to a 3-2 victory over Bryant in the second round of the Class 7A state boys soccer tournament at Gates Stadium. Springdale survived a late surge by Bryant, which scored two goals in the second half and came close to scoring on a few other attempts.

CLASS 7A

Boys

At Rogers Heritage

Friday

Match 9 Springdale 3, Bryant 2

Match 10 Fort Smith Northside 1, Fayetteville 0

Match 11 Rogers 1, Conway 0

Match 12 2W Springdale Har-Ber vs. Winner Match 8, 4 p.m.

Saturday

Match 13 Springdale vs. Fort Smith Northside, 10 a.m.

Match 14 Rogers vs. Winner Match 12, noon

Springdale advances to play Fort Smith Northside in a semifinal game today at 10 a.m. Friday's victory was the ninth time this year Springdale (20-1-1) played in a match decided by one goal.

Bryant (12-8-3) made the game interesting after being outplayed by the Bulldogs in the first half.

Springdale goalie Andres Aldaco twice raced out in the second half to beat a Bryant player charging toward the ball. Aldaco was accidentally kicked in the head the second time and dropped to the turf for several seconds before returning to goal, where he made a final diving save with 1:32 left in the match.

"[Aldaco] came up huge for us and, in the state tournament, that's what you need," Springdale Coach Donald Beeler said. "When we went against the wind in the second half, that really tipped the scales for them. It generated a lot more opportunities for them, plus they were pushing some guys forward. He came up in big moments, and that's what you've got to do."

Vega put Springdale ahead on a goal with 24:55 left in the first half, and Martinez made it 2-0 on a goal with 28 minutes left in the second half. Martinez used his footwork to get in position for an attempt at the net.

"That was a classic Michael Martinez goal in that he just outworked the other guy," Beeler said.

Springdale needed a second goal by Vega to offset goals by Jhorman Cruz and Jonathan Guerra for Bryant in the second half. Vega, who missed a couple of scoring chances in the first half, put Springdale ahead 3-1 less than two minutes after Bryant scored its first goal with 14:32 left in the match.

"When you miss an opportunity or two it can wear on you," Beeler said. "But he fought through it and got the goals we needed."

ROGERS 1, CONWAY 0 (4-2 penalty kicks)

Willie Hernandez pointed a finger to the sky and acknowledged the Rogers fans as the rest of his Mounties teammates mobbed the senior.

After 100 minutes of play, Hernandez's penalty kick secured a victory for Rogers over Conway in the quarterfinals of the 7A state soccer tournament. With the victory, Rogers will play in today's semifinal game at noon.

Neither team scored during 80 minutes of regulation or two 10-minute overtime periods. Conway missed on its first two attempts in the penalty-kick portion, and the Mounties connected on four in a row.

The Wampus Cats (18-3) appeared to score in the 22nd minute when Kristian Reed got behind the Rogers defense on a free kick, but he was ruled offside to negate the score.

Rogers (13-10) had its chances to steal a victory in the second half of regulation. With just more than 12 minutes remaining, a Hernandez free kick ricocheted just over the crossbar. Then, with 9:35 left, a Mounties shot from about 40 yards out bounced off the crossbar, barely staying in front of the score line, before Wampus Cats keeper Cole Hoover collected it for the save.

FORT SMITH NORTHSIDE 1, FAYETTEVILLE 0 (OT)

Sophomore Jarvin Nieto scored just seconds into overtime to give Northside a victory over Fayetteville.

Northside controlled the ball on Fayetteville's side of the field in the second half but did not score. A goal by Northside with 12 minutes left was disallowed because of a push in the back near the Fayetteville net.

The overtime game was the second consecutive for Fayetteville, which beat Fort Smith Southside 2-1 in an extra session on Thursday.

LR CATHOLIC 2,

SPRINGDALE HAR-BER 0

Little Rock Catholic (13-5) had just enough offense to take down higher-ranked Springdale Har-Ber (12-6). The Rockets, the No. 3 seed from the 7A-Central, scored two second-half goals to dispose of the Wildcats, the No. 2 seed from the 7A-West Conference. The Rockets advance to today’s semifinal round, where they will play Rogers at noon. Catholic’s Jack Nolen broke the scoreless tie with a one-timer in the 64th minute. Nolen, who got behind the Wildcats’ defense, deposited a cross deep in the goal box for the score.

Catholic’s Tyler Mackenzie increased the Rockets’ lead to 2-0 with a penalty kick with 2:42 remaining in the match. Har-Ber keeper Jonathan Sandoval came out of the goal box to defend a Rockets’ attempt, but he bobbled the ball and tackled a Catholic player to set up the penalty-kick score.

Bryant’s Martin Ramirez (right) and Springdale’s Irvin Sotero leap for a header Friday in the Class 7A boys soccer state tournament in Rogers. Springd...

Jose Vega (10) of Springdale High boots the ball into the net for a goal ahead of Bryant defender Thomas Bullington on Friday during the Class 7A stat...

Sports on 05/12/2018

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