With all of his players returning next season, Maumelle soccer Coach Brandon Ricketts has high hopes for next season. The Hornets just finished state competition beating Danville before falling to Central Arkansas Christian (CAC), 2-1.

Not only did this year’s team, comprised of juniors, advance to the state tournament, but as sophomores, they, along with three seniors, sealed a spot in state competition last year. They won one contest before losing in the second round to the eventual state champion.

"We had the lead with 20 minutes left, and they scored two quick headers," Ricketts said. "We really could have won, and that is the way things go in spurts. We just ran out of gas. We definitely went up a couple of notches, and I’m excited because we can only get better. We played so well against some pretty good teams."

The Hornets (9-3) started the season off slow but rebounded with a tough schedule. Not only did first-year coach Ricketts add some more competitive teams, but Maumelle had also moved to the 4A-North conference and faced teams it wasn’t used to seeing.

"We hit a little rough patch at the beginning," Ricketts said. "We went to a tournament in Greenbrier and lost all of our matches then lost to CAC, 8-0. We finally started coming together as a team. As individuals they are all skilled but were trying to do too much."

When Ricketts took over, one of his first priorities was making the schedule tougher. Additionally, the Hornets did not know what to expect from the other teams in the new conference.

"The difference is we figured out what we needed to work on," Ricketts said. "As a new coach and not having anything to go on from last year, we weren’t as prepared. The guys thought it would be easier."

With two trips under their belts, the Hornets are anticipating going further in the state tournament next year. Their experience from the last two trips is a good foundation to accomplish that goal.