Girls soccer notches second win
By Kim West for the FCT
After starting its rookie season unranked, the Russellville boys soccer team continued its steady ascent in the Class 4A-5A rankings, climbing to No. 7 for the first time in the state poll released Monday.
Last week, the boys notched two area wins, improving to 15-3 overall and 7-0 in Area 16, while the girls improved to 2-13 overall and 2-5 in area play. The boys are one victory away from claiming the Area 16 title and a first-round home playoff match.
The Golden Tigers defeated East Limestone 3-1 on a pair of goals from Daniel Carranza and one from Marvin Betancourt. They beat Ardmore 6-1 on Jorge Bahena’s first hat trick, two goals by Betancourt and one goal by Andy Alonso.
Betancourt, a senior striker with a team-high 32 goals, and Alonso, a junior striker with 25 goals, are on track for All-State recognition. Russellville has produced an extraordinary goal differential of plus-85, with 101 goals for and only 15 allowed in 18 games.
The Lady Golden Tigers lost 7-0 to No. 10 East Limestone, but they earned their second victory with a 1-0 triumph against Ardmore on Juana Juarez’s rebound goal eight minutes into the second half. It was the sophomore midfielder’s first goal and Russellville’s sixth overall in its first season.
“Juana has worked very hard, as well as the rest of the girls … She absolutely deserves a goal,” Russellville coach Trey Stanford said.
Stanford credited Juarez’s willingness to play out of position as an example of a player prioritizing team success.
“Earlier in the year, she wanted to play striker, and I spoke with her about staying in the middle of the field because we needed her to help us at center mid, and she agreed. So for her to score a goal like that was awesome.
“The girls have improved immensely from the day one to now. They’ve learned the game quickly as it’s come along, and they have gotten much better.”
Russellville, which hadn’t announced a rescheduled date for Monday’s weather-shortened area doubleheader against East Limestone as of press time, is scheduled to host the St. John Paul II girls at 5 p.m. Thursday. The boys host Madison Academy at 7 p.m.
The 4A-5A sub-state playoffs start April 27-29, followed by the second round in the first week of May. The state Final Four tournament is May 11-13 at John Hunt Park in Huntsville.