Since Spring Break, Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustang soccer team has gone 3-1 by a combined score of 24-3.
CAC (5-2-1 overall, 2-0 in the 2-4A) beat Vilonia in the first game back, 6-0; fell to Class 5A Sylvan Hills, 3-2; and beat conference foes Benton Harmony Grove and Wickes by identical 8-0 scores.
"We actually played pretty well against Sylvan Hills and created a lot of scoring opportunities," said first-year coach Carter Lambert. "We need to do a better job finishing, but their goalie had a really strong game. We played well defensively, though the score doesn’t reflect it. Their three goals were scored from brilliant individual plays from one of their players. As a coaching staff we didn’t do a good job preparing the girls for her; however, sometimes you just have to give credit to the other team, and they played really well."
CAC, which played Arkadelphia on Monday and Episcopal Collegiate on Tuesday, will play host to Gurdon on Friday for a 2-4A game, and Class 5A Little Rock Christian on Monday, April 15.
"I don’t know a great deal about our conference opponents; however, we are looking forward to playing Little Rock Christian," Lambert said. "They are one of the strongest teams in the state, and we hope playing a team of their caliber will help prepare us for the teams we will meet if we advance to the state tournament. We will see how we are progressing as a team when we play them."
He said the Lady Mustangs, who won their fourth state championship last year, knocking off Little Rock Christian in the Class 5A final, 1-0, were adjusting well to new coaches and a slightly different system of play.
"We also have a number of girls who are adjusting to new positions and starting roles," he said. "Matt Lambert, our assistant coach, has really been stressing ball control and passing. The girls have played very well for extended periods of time, but we are trying to become consistent. When we keep the ball moving, we create a lot of shots on goal."
Junior Rachel Mina and freshman Lynley Childress are the top scorers. Lambert said most goals had been created by strong central midfield play from seniors Morgan Goodlow and Brooke Lieblich and sophomore Katherine Rawlins.
"We have two seniors, Maria Martinez and Samantha Lieblich, playing really well as defenders, and junior Falan Miller is doing a great job as sweeper," he said. "Senior Jessica McCauley and freshman Josie Bates have shared goal keeping responsibilities. Outside midfielders are freshman Alexa Goodlow, sophomore Miranda Jones and junior Hope Otwell. Hope Joiner has started as a defender but was injured in the Sylvan Hills game."
He said coaches were also pleased with the rest of the squad’s effort and development.
"Many of them are going to see significant playing time," he said. "Jessica Saunders and Maggie Van Winkle have impressed us. Danielle Jayroe, Sydnie Jones, Anna Kay Marlar and Blakley Wood didn’t play last year but are showing promise. Freshmen Jenny Rohrer and Maggie Lee are playing well, too."
The short-term goal now is to put two halves together.
"We have had some really good halves, but good teams have to play well for 80 minutes," Lambert said. "That is our challenge."