Soccer: Highlanders win opener, then play 1st game on new field

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Editor’s Note: This report is written by team captain Jacob Eastburn.

The Eureka Springs Highlanders started their season off on the right foot, with a resounding 11-2 win against the Bergman Panthers on March 16.

Players were eager to start the season, since the 2019-2020 season was called off because of COVID-19.

“Our defense played really well tonight,” said senior captain Preston Hyatt, a four-year goalkeeper for Eureka Springs. “I have high hopes for this season!”

Not only did the defense perform admirably, with 11 goals the offense is on track for a breakout season. Two stars appeared on the field Tuesday night, Jose Alpizar, ending the game with three goals, and Jose Rangel, scoring 4 goals against the Panthers. 

The Highlanders played their second game of the season Thursday night against Lifeway Christian Academy. Eureka Springs fought hard, but Lifeway Christian took the lead early and won 7-1. Camden Boardman scored the only goal for Eureka Springs off a pass by Eason Nystrom.

“We all made mistakes tonight, but these mistakes have been recognized, and we know what to work on,” coach Earl Hyatt said after the game.

The game against Lifeway Christian was special for one man in particular. Shereya Smith has worked with the Eureka Springs soccer program for more than 20 years. Twenty-one years ago, he coached the high school team in its their last game at the track, before they moved to the Leatherwood ball fields. Thursday’s game was the Highlanders’ first on their new home field at the track. A new paved road takes spectators from the back parking lot of the high school up to a new parking lot added behind the track. Construction on the new soccer field began last summer, and has involved flattening the inner field of the track, laying grass layers on the field, installing a scoreboard donated by Equity Bank, and putting up new goals.

“Our last game on this field was sort of like this one,” Smith said. “We lost about 6-1. It’s nice to be back and see this field being used again.”

Besides being a former coach of the high school soccer team, Smith works with the youth soccer league, coaching a team of young players.

The Highlanders’ next game is Tuesday, March 30, at Decatur.

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