SPORTS >> Perssons team to take down Jacksonville
Sylvan Hills took a one-sided, non-conference victory over Jacksonville, 5-1 on Thursday night at Jan Crow Stadium.
The Bears (9-2-1) were working on a shutout until the Red Devils scored on a free kick in the final minute.
The Persson family proved too tough for Jacksonville’s defense, as sophomore Jeremiah Persson got things started with an early goal for Sylvan Hills, followed by a goal by senior Jacob Persson and two goals for leading scorer Joshua Persson.
Junior forward Florian Zell added the only non-Persson goal of the match for the Bears in the second half.
“It was a good performance,” Bears coach Sam Persson said. “We always have trouble playing at Jacksonville for whatever reason, but we played with confidence and had a good night passing the ball.”
The Bears are second in the 5A-Southeast Conference, with their two losses coming at the hands of league-leading Pulaski Academy.
“We have the best players we’ve had playing in their senior season this year,” Sam Persson said. “And we’ve been pretty dominant. We’re hard to stop on offense; we’ve never scored less than two goals a game.
“Defensively, we’re kind of green and have given up more goals than we would have liked.”
The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils picked up their third victory of the season Thursday with a 6-1 rout over cross-county rival Sylvan Hills at Jan Crow Stadium.
The Lady Devils, who did not have enough players to field a complete team last season, have already qualified for the 6A state tournament with a 3-7 record.
Sophomore forward Taylor Ruple snagged her fourth hat trick — three goals in one game — of the season against the Lady Bears with a goal in the first half that gave Jacksonville a 1-0 lead at intermission.
Ruple scored two more in the second half, sandwiched between goals by Shante Holloway and Katie Roessler.
Ruple completed her triple feat with five minutes left and Katie Lawrence added Jacksonville’s final goal in the last three minutes.
The Lady Bears (0-7) avoided the shutout when Sarah McAllister scored late, just after Ruple’s final goal.
For Ruple, who serves as team captain for Jacksonville, the frustrations of a freshman season in which she was sidelined because of lack of participation has given way to a thrilling sophomore campaign.
“This has been a great season for me,” Ruple said. “I didn’t really have any confidence in myself. I had confidence in my team, but I thought I wouldn’t make a single goal. But in the end, I’ve made four hat tricks, I’ve beat the Jacksonville High School record with 16 goals, and it’s just so exciting. I didn’t do it by myself — my team helped me out.”
Ruple said the victory over Sylvan Hills should also help team confidence.
“Now, after this victory tonight, everyone is going to have their head up high,” Ruple said. “Everybody’s going to be ready for state, and everyone’s going to come out to win.”
Although only a sophomore, Ruple was selected as a team captain because of her prior experience as a forward on the classic team ASC Angels in the Burns Park soccer league. She has been a part of two state championship teams on the 15-under Angels squad.
“Some of the players go to North Little Rock, some go to Little Rock Christian, some go to CAC, and I’m just the oddball from Jacksonville, but I’m happy I get to work with these girls, because I love them to death.”