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Arkansas All-Star weekend: Two first-half goals enough for West in boys soccer win

West goalkeeper Fredy Juarez makes several clutch stops to earn MVP honors.

By Jeff Halpern | Photos by Ted McClenning 

CONWAY — The first half featured all of the scoring in a 2-1 victory for the West in the Arkansas High School Coaches Association boys soccer game Friday at Estes Stadium.

Alex Gabriel of Joe T. Robinson scored in the 19th minute, while Fernando Castro of Russellville scored in the 30th minute for both West goals. Rhyan McGaha of Harding Academy had the East’s only goal in the 37th minute.

“Sometimes, you need to have some luck,” said West coach Brent Crenshaw of Fayetteville. “I know the second goal, we had five or six chances before finally getting one through.”

East coach Garrick Moore of Little Rock Southwest said, “That second goal was a tough one because I thought our keeper [Dillon Hoover of Bryant] had it.”

Taking a 2-1 lead into the second half, the West managed to stop several chances with goaltender Fredy Juarez of Green Forest being named the game’s MVP.

“This feels good,” said Juarez. “We controlled the ball and my team played hard and stepped up.”

The East had several chances in the second half.

At the five-minute mark, Sikan Akpanudo of Harding Academy was knocked off the ball. At the eight-minute mark, Jonathan Resendiz of Fort Smith Northside sent a shot high and wide, and Resendiz had a shot at the 13-minute mark deflected.

Juarez later made saves at both the 25-minute mark and the 27-minute mark. Five minutes later, the East had a corner kick, but the shot went high and wide.

“They got after us in the second half,” said Crenshaw. “It seemed like they attacked us on the left side.”

“We had a lot of shots, but we weren’t getting any chances, not with the way their goaltender played," Moore said of Juarez. "Every time we shot it, he was there. He had a big leg. He always seemed to keep the ball out.”

The West had at least five scoring chances in the second half, but goalies Dillon Hoover of Bryant and Cole Weaver of Batesville Southside kept the ball out of the net in the second half.

With two days to prepare, Crenshaw was proud of the way his team played and enjoyed the experience.

“It’s hard to put a lot of things together in two days,” Crenshaw said. “Given how deep both of these teams were, we knew this was going to be a fun experience. Normally, you have a player or two you can hide, but (Friday), there was nobody you could hide.

“We knew it was going to be hot, but we wanted to give these players a chance to showcase their abilities and it made for a fun experience."

The outstanding players were Paul Gonzalez of Lake Hamilton for the West and Jaffet Rodriquez of Beebe for the East.