Central Arkansas Christian’s Mustangs will carry a 15-0 record into the Class 4A State Soccer Tournament this week in Batesville.
Andy Stewart’s team won the 2-4A District Tournament last week to take the league’s top seed into the state tournament. The Mustangs will meet Crowley’s Ridge Academy (8-4), fourth seed from the 3-4A, at 2 p.m. Thursday at Lyon College.
“I know they’re a fourth seed, and that’s all I know about them,” Stewart said Sunday.
The winner will advance to Friday’s 2 p.m. quarterfinal, also at Lyon, against the survivor of Warren, second from the 4-4A, and Berryville, third from the 1-4A.
“That would probably be Warren,” Stewart said. “They usually have a strong program.”
That winner will advance to Saturday’s noon semifinal against the survivor of the quadrant that includes Conway St. Joseph, first from the 3; Mena, fourth from the 2; Green Forest, second from the 1; and Episcopal Collegiate, third from the 4.
“After Day 1, there’s going to be tough teams the rest of the way,” Stewart said.
The top half of the bracket includes Hamburg, first from the 4; against Prairie Grove, fourth from the 1; Cossatot River, second from the 2; against Jacksonville Lighthouse, third from the 3; Dardanelle, first from the 1; against Monticello, fourth from the 4; and Heber Springs, second from the 3; against Nashville, third from the 2.
Semifinals will be at Southside Batesville with the state championship to be at the University of Arkansas’s Razorback Field next week.
In the district tournament last week, the Mustangs handled Arkadelphia, 4-0; Mena, 2-1; and Cossatot River in the championship, 4-2 on penalty kicks.
“The district tournament helped us a lot,” Stewart said. “Both Mena and Cossatot are good programs. They had strong seasons and will be in the state tournament. It helped us a lot to play some good quality opponents.”
He praised the play of several Mustangs heading into the state tournament.
“Zac Otwell is playing well, and Bret Bishop is doing well,” Stewart said. “Chris Rawlins has been solid at the back, and I’ve had a couple of freshmen step up — Eli Jenkins has been really good and helped a lot with the seniors. Gentry Miller has been solid as well.”
With the district championship, the Mustangs will head into the state tournament on a continued roll.
“I’m really happy that we won,” Stewart said. “It helped in terms of our seeding. I think we’re peaking at the right time in the sense that we’re playing better opponents and still performing. That’s good for me to see.
“However, we’re still not there yet. We still have work to do.”
Last year, the Mustangs fell to Dardanelle in the state semifinals.