Top-seeded Jonesboro knocked off El Dorado 3-0 Thursday in the first round of the 5A Boys State Soccer Tournament. Hurricane coach Kenton Weaver said it was not the typical one vs. four match-up.
“I’m going to be honest with you, I thought El Dorado gave us a heck of a fight. I thought they gave us everything we wanted,” Weaver said. “Typically when people see a (1 seed vs. 4 seed), they think a mercy rule. But the South conference is tough. They gave us everything we wanted. They forced us to have to look at different options from a scheme standpoint. I think the heat came into factor and starting wearing them down. I think we’re a little deeper on the sidelines than they were.”
El Dorado coach Rex Hayes said depth was a factor but so was Jonesboro’s skill.
“Everybody wants more players at that level ready to go. They had a little more depth. They were technically a little better,” Hayes said. “They’re just a better team. It’s hard to fault my boys for doing their best. It just wasn’t better than their best.”
Jonesboro scored at the 28:02 mark of the first half off a free kick by Eder Leal, which was put into the net by Jafet Cid on a redirect from in front of the goal.
The Wildcats played defense for a good chunk of the half but managed to stay within a goal at the intermission.
El Dorado upped its aggression in the second half but still had trouble penetrating into the eye of the Hurricane. After Brayden Rivera’s goal at the 32:10 mark of the second half, the two-goal advantage looked almost insurmountable.
Cid got loose on a breakaway for the final goal with 19:03 remaining.
“First half we had some chances on the counter that came off. They had some really great saves from their keeper, a few chances where he came out and made some good saves. We had one off the post,” said Hayes. “We could’ve had one or two in it if we’d flipped another coin. But, they came back out and were kind of luring us, holding it deep to create that space and then going long, which is pretty difficult to deal with when we’re tired in the second half. It’s a great game plan when you’re up.”
As the Hurricane moves on, Weaver believes his bench will continue to pay dividends.
“This tournament is about attrition and how deep your roster is. There’s a lot of really skilled teams in this tournament. The one thing I’ve learned is who has the mental toughness to go three straight days in the heat and just battle,” said Weaver. “It’s what makes it fun. It’s hard on the kids. It’s grueling but the best teams win that have the deepest benches. That’s just the way it is.”