Central Arkansas Christian will play for the second boys state soccer championship in school history Saturday in the Class 4A State Final in Fayetteville.
The Mustangs will face Green Forest at 4 p.m. at Razorback Field on the University of Arkansas campus.
CAC won its only previous boys state title in 2008.
Fabian Mina’s Mustangs (15-2-2), top seed from the 2-4A, survived Berryville, second seed from the 1-4A, in Monday’s state semifinals, 3-2 in overtime, at Burns Park.
“We started pretty good today, but that team just came back and tied the game,” Mina said. “We were up 2-0 with 15 or 20 minutes to go. They came back, put two goals in and then had the momentum. They got excited and then they got energy.”
Junior Landon Stafford made the game-winning goal six minutes into the OT.
“There was a strong wind, and it helped a lot,” Mina said. “In the first half we had the wind and went up 2-0; in the second half they got the wind and tied us. In the extra time we got the toss and the wind. Landon Stafford got an outside shot, put it in, and that was the game.”
Senior striker Eric Bentley, who broke the state record for single-season scoring during the tournament, and Billy Sullivan scored in the first half.
Bentley, who broke the CAC single-season scoring mark of 38 last week, bettered the state mark of 43 earlier in the tournament. He has 49 heading into the state final. Bentley has signed to play college soccer at Ouachita Baptist University.
CAC, top seed from the 2-4A, beat Crowley’s Ridge Academy, fourth from the 3-4A, 6-0, in the first round and Danville, third from the 1-4A, in the quarterfinals, 6-1.
“Danville is a better team than (Berryville),” Mina said Monday. “We didn’t play good today. We weren’t ourselves today. Maybe they were excited from graduation (Sunday). A couple of my seniors were tired. But others stepped up. Everybody was ready to win and compete. The boys competed. There was a fight for every ball. Nothing was easy.”
Green Forest entered the state tournament as the fourth seed from the 1-4A. Mina said he wasn’t familiar with the Tigers.
“We played them three or four years ago,” he said. “They upset Valley View (the defending state champion, 3-1 in Monday’s other semifinal); nobody expected that. We just need to push the ball and not let them get set.
“We just need to be ourselves and we won’t have any problem.”
He said Monday the plan would be to train all week and travel to Fayetteville on Friday.
“We’re ready to play,” he said. “We’ve got the rest of the week to prepare.”