With a core group of juniors returning from last year, the North Pulaski boys’ soccer team owns a winning record and has itself in position to notch a state tournament spot.

The Falcons are 5-3 and sit in the third in conference behind Pulaski Academy and Little Rock Christian. The top four team advance to the state tournament.

"Last year, we didn’t fare too well and only won two," North Pulaski Coach Jeffery Osborn said. "We only had a handful graduate and a big junior class."

Besides winning more matches, the Falcons are experiencing something else new this season. Last year, they were mercy ruled several times. When a team is seven goals ahead, the mercy rule goes into effect and the time is cut in half. This year they are on the giving end of that rule.

"We have won by considerable margins, and our first game won 7-0," Osborn said. "Last year, we were mercy-ruled several times, and this year we’ve dealt out several. I told the guys to stay humble and be good sports."

Osborn said the Falcons have confidence through the roof. The difference is last year they would go in with a defeated mentality. This season they think they are going to win.

"When we went to Pulaski Academy, they had almost two extra teams on their bench, and we had two subs," Osborn said. "The score was 3-1at the half, and we never slowed down. We played the entire 80 minutes. That is huge against a school that has tons of confidence."

North Pulaski also lost its first meeting with Sylvan Hills, but Osborn said the Falcons won everywhere but on the scoreboard. He said they controlled ball possession the majority of the time and played remarkably well. For some reason, they couldn’t get the ball in the net. That is something they wouldn’t have been able to do last year.

"I think the biggest difference is we have more unity on the team," Osborn. "Last year, it was a feeling out process. The core group works well together, and the new guys are a nice addition. The underclassmen have some good balls skills. We have more weapons and more of a team concept."

North Pulaski has no matches this week after competing in three last week. They host Pulaski Academy on Monday and Jacksonville next Thursday. If the Falcons take care of business, Osborn sees the three and fourth spots in the conference coming down to North Pulaski and Sylvan Hills. Both those finishes move on to state.