Little Rock, Ark. - After a hard fought season, the 2008+ age groups battled for state supremacy in the 2022 State Championships. Among the teams playing in Rangers uniforms were the 2006 Little Rock Boys coached by Nick Doyle, the 2007 Little Rock Boys coached by Will Montgomery, the 2008 Little Rock Boys coached by Thomas Milner, the 2007 Searcy Boys coached by Matt Laforce, and the 2006-08 Searcy Girls coached by James Eddins.
The 2006 Boys played a two-legged final against Sporting Arkansas in which they dropped the opening match 2-1, but recovered early Sunday morning. With a goal by JJ Evans early in the second-leg, the Rangers still needed a goal to send it into extra time after Sporting equalized. Tripp Ortega found the back of the net after a deflected corner fell to his head from just six yards out. Josh Montgomery was the hero of the day after making a dashing run through the middle for Evans to play an outside of the boot ball right into his path for the first-time finish. That goal gave the 2006 boys the 4-3 aggregate advantage over Sporting.
The 2007 Boys played a competitive match against the 2007 Searcy Rangers in the semi-final match on Saturday which saw the Little Rock Academy side come out as 2-1 victors. Montgomery’s boys were unfortunately on the wrong side of the scoreline in the final on Sunday afternoon, losing to Central Arkansas SC 2-1.
The 2008 Boys took a tough one in the semi-finals against Arkansas Rising, falling 3-2 after coming back to level the score at two all. Milner’s boys rattled off a fantastic regular season, but had a few bounces go the opposite way in that semi-final match.
The 2007 Searcy Boys fought until the very end against the 2007 Little Rock Academy, knotting the score up at one a piece before conceding a late goal. Laforce’s side finished top of the table in their regular season and made waves across the state knocking off Arkansas Rising 2007 in the Quarter-Finals.
The 2006-08 Searcy Girls also made waves around the state in the semi-finals, beating Arkansas Rising and earning a spot in a two-legged final against Bentonville Prodigy. After falling in the first leg 2-0, Eddins’ side fought back in the Sunday second-leg, scoring the opening goal and having most of the momentum. Unfortunately, some missed opportunities led to Bentonville taking control back of the match scoring two more goals before a late penalty kick for the Searcy Academy leveled the second leg at 2-2. Earning a Finalists finish after a 2-4 aggregate scoreline.
Many of these teams will continue practicing for showcases and much more, while also now preparing for their high school seasons starting this Spring.