Prior to Friday, St. Joseph’s boys had never won a game in the state soccer tournament.
That has changed bigtime.
With Monday’s dramatic 1-0 win over Clarksville, the Bulldogs won three straight games in the Class 4A tournament at Jonesboro and have reached Friday’s state championship game.
The Bulldogs will play De Queen, the two-time defending champion, at 4 p.m. Friday at Lady Back Yard at Fayetteville.
Grant Smith’s goal in the 78th minute gave the Bulldogs the victory in a game that seemed headed into overtime.
Kevin Rittman, St. Joseph’s coach, credited goalie Jared Thielke as a key factor.
“He made some great saves that kept us even and kept us playing,” he said. “Clarksville is a very skilled team. Our defense scratched and clawed and fought off every opportunity until we could get the game-winner.”
The Bulldogs will enter the title game with a 13-2 mark.
“We had some rough spots in the middle but it’s been a great season,” Rittman said. “Valley View beat us 4-1 in the middle of the season and it was a pretty good beating. We came together after that and we’re playing pretty well now with a lot of heart.”