After graduating several players off last year’s Class 5A state soccer championship team, Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustangs are rebuilding with a good core and a new coach.
Dr. Carter Lambert, president of the school for the last 11 years, adds coaching to his duties this spring.
"I’ve coached track and cross country, and my boys got into soccer, so I got that experience and really enjoyed it," Lambert said. "We’re going to try to be as good as we can be, have a good time and see what happens. Usually when you do those things, good things happen."
Lambert’s son, Matt, is working as a volunteer assistant.
CAC, which knocked off Little Rock Christian, 1-0, in the state final at the University of Arkansas last year, is one of the most successful girls soccer programs in the state, having won state titles in 2006, ‘07, ‘08 and ‘12. Only Pulaski Academy (with six) has won more since soccer was sanctioned by the Arkansas Activities Association in 1998.
"We lost a bunch of starters, three or four all-state players, but we’ve got a good core," Lambert said. "We’re expecting a lot out of our seniors and our juniors. We’re short on experience and depth, but I think we’ll do fine."
The Lady Mustangs opened the season with a win over Maumelle, 3-0; then split games at the Little Rock Christian Tournament, falling to Searcy, 2-0, and beating North Little Rock, 1-0. Heading into Spring Break, they tied Hot Springs Lakeside, 0-0.
With the basketball team reaching the quarterfinals of the state tournament and about half the soccer team gone on school trips to Europe or Washington D.C. during spring break, Lambert hasn’t had his complete team available much yet.
"The score wasn’t reflective of the game against Maumelle; it was closer than that," he said. "Although we lost to Searcy, we played real well, particularly in the second half. The tie against Lakeside was a good game.
"Searcy finished runner-up in (Class) 6A last year; Lakeside is one of the better teams in (Class) 5A. I don’t know a lot about North Little Rock, but they played well when they played us, and Maumelle has several who play club ball."
CAC moves to the 2-4A conference this year against Arkadelphia, Arkansas Baptist, Gurdon, Benton Harmony Grove, Malvern, Mena and Wickes. The Lady Mustangs played Vilonia on Tuesday and will play host to Sylvan Hills on Monday and Benton Harmony Grove on Tuesday.
"I really don’t know much about (Class) 4A except that we had a great run for several years as state champs," Lambert said. "I imagine there are some very good teams, but probably not the depth you find in (Class) 5A, but I don’t know that for sure. It’s been four years since we were there, so things could change.
"We’ll take it a game at a time and try to play as well as we can and see what happens with the other teams."