Craig Moses has a chance to make history for the Lakeside Rams on Saturday -- lead the team to its first Class 5A state soccer title.
Lakeside (18-6-1) is matched up against the Valley View Blazers (21-3-2) in Saturday's Class 5A final at noon at Razorback Field in Fayetteville.
Saturday's match will be the fifth time the Rams have advanced to the state title game in Fayetteville, but in each of the previous four trips, Lakeside has taken home the silver hardware instead of the gold.
Moses is making his fourth trip to the state finals with the Rams, taking over as head coach in 2003, a year after the school's inaugural trip to the state final match. He has since led the team to state finals in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
While the Rams have not found their way to the state finals every year, they have regularly made it to the Class 5A tournament. Last season, Lakeside fell, 2-0, to the Blazers in the quarterfinals on Valley View's home field in Jonesboro, and they lost, 3-2, to Hot Springs two years ago in the semifinals Tommy J. Holt Memorial Field at Joe Reese Stadium.
Moses is treating this week's practice like most of the team's practices this season with practices every day through Thursday before traveling to Fayetteville Friday afternoon. The Rams are looking to leave the school around 4 p.m. Friday.
Lakeside opened the season strong, outscoring its opponents 14-3 for a 4-0-1 start before falling, 2-0, to the Trojans on March 6. The Rams have gone on to outscore their opponents, 62-36, despite starting the post-season with a pair of losses in the Class 5A-South district tournament at White Hall.
The Rams, who earned the 5A/6A-6 regular season title, entered the district tournament as a No. 3 seed, falling to Hot Springs, 4-2, before being denied by Hope, 2-0, in the third-place game.
Taking the No. 4 seed from the South, Lakeside started the Class 5A state tournament in one of the most improbable ways as the Rams upset the top-seeded team from the West, Maumelle.
The Rams needed 20 extra minutes to collect the win on the grass field at Harrison's soccer complex as the score was tied, 2-2, at the end of regulation. It was sophomore Grant Viscardis who scored the golden goal for the Rams with 47 seconds left in the second overtime period to send Lakeside to the quarterfinals to face Batesville.
Despite a lackluster start to the game at Sheridan Garrison Field, the Rams managed to hold on to defeat the Pioneers, 2-1, as a last-second penalty kick by a Batesville freshman flew over the goal to secure the semifinal berth for Lakeside.
Lakeside definitely showed its mettle in the semifinal as they faced off against Little Rock Christian, who had ousted the Trojans, 1-0, the day before.
Trailing 1-0 at the break, the Rams evened the score early before Russell Gartner received his second yellow card of the match, leaving the Garland County team down a man for the last 28 minutes and 30 seconds of the match. The Warriors scored with about 17 minutes left in the match, and the Rams again leveled the score a minute later to leave the score at 2-2 with just over 16 minutes left in the game.
As the time ticked down, it looked like the Rams would be heading to their second overtime game in three days, but Luke Long hammered the ball past the Warriors' keeper with under a minute left to secure Lakeside's fifth trip to the state final match.Sports on 05/15/2018
Print Headline: Rams looking for gold in fifth trip to Fayetteville