FAYETTEVILLE — Erick Banuelos didn’t mind that his last name was spelled wrong on the back of his red all-star jersey.
It’s easy to see how the mistake was made.
The former Rogers Heritage forward was surprised to receive a phone call Sunday, inviting him to play two days later for the West team in the Arkansas High School Coaches Association Boys Soccer All-Star Game at Razorback Field.
The West needed to fill its rosters after several players dropped out, and Banuelos made the most of his opportunity Tuesday by scoring the first goal in the West’s 2-1 win over the East.
The East cut the West’s lead to 2-1 when White Hall’s Tommy Townsend booted in a shot right in front of the goal with 20:09 remaining. The East then appeared to tie the score on a shot by Conway’s Michael Anthony off of a free kick with 9:27 left.
But the celebration didn’t last long. Anthony’s goal was called off because of an offside call, and the East never found the back of the net after that.
Banuelos’ header with 11 minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the first half gave the West a lead it never relinquished. Former Springdale High midfielder Nelson Landaverde then gave the West some breathing room with
a 25-yard shot that extended his team’s lead to 2-0 with 28:54 left.
That was more than enough offense for the West to withstand a late charge by the East, which struggled early on to get shots on goal.
“We talked about being patient. Goals will come if we just do what we know they can do,” said Siloam Springs coach Jason Bowen, who served as the West’s coach. “Absolutely, it held up for us.
“I’m a little disappointed in the (East’s) set piece, but it happens.”
Landaverde, who was named the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year this past season, earned the West’s Most Outstanding Player award for his go-ahead goal. Former Fayetteville midfielder Tyler Ho was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, thanks in large part to his aggressive defense against the East.
“It was definitely a team effort out there,” Ho said. Riverview’s Tony Rowley was named the East’s Most Outstanding Player.
“We told them at half, ‘You’ve got 40 minutes and we didn’t come here to lose,” said Nettleton coach John Proffitt, who served as the East’s coach.
Monticello’s Shane Bostian (East) and Sheridan’s Phong Lee (West) also competed. Wynn Welch of Sheridan played in the girls game earlier Tuesday, but the outcome was not available.
Sheridan’s Hicks digs 15
At Barnhill Arena, Hannah Hicks finished with 15 digs for the West, but the East prevailed in the All-Star volleyball match 25-15, 25-20, 17-25, 21-15 and 18-16.
Valley View’s Shelby Daniel scored an ace to close the match.