Jose Vega was fearful he wouldn't get another opportunity to win a state championship after Springdale lost to Bentonville in the title game his freshman year.
His uneasiness grew after Springdale fell short his sophomore and junior seasons. But Vega went out a winner as a senior when Springdale High defeated Bryant 3-0 to capture the Class 6A state championship at Razorback Field in Fayetteville.
At a glance
NOTEWORTHY Scored 24 goals and added six assists to lead Springdale. … Won Class 6A state championship with victory over Bryant. … Finished high school career with 70 goals and 25 assists.
Vega was a forward and leading goal scorer for the Bulldogs, who finished 18-2 after being eliminated in the state semifinals by Fort Smith Northside in 2018.
"We came in very focused to get the job done after losing to Northside in the semifinals last year," Vega said. "We worked hard and it feels amazing to win a state championship my senior year, especially after getting so close when I was a freshman."
Vega, 5-foot-6, scored 24 goals and added six assists to lead Springdale, which went 14-0 in 6A-West Conference play. He finished his high school career with 70 goals and 25 assists.
For his efforts, Vega has been selected the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
"Jose is a great player and he's a wonderful leader to have on your team," Springdale Coach Donald Beeler said. "He was the best player on the field in every game we played in and he got targeted by other teams. He had to fight through a lot but he never got down, never complained, and never felt sorry for himself. He kept going, kept playing, and that right there sent a message to the rest of the team."
Vega moved to Springdale with his family from El Salvador when he was 13 years old. He said he developed his soccer skills by playing against older people, including his cousin Nelson Landaverde, a former Springdale standout.
The cousins were each winners of the Gatorade Player of the Year for boys soccer in Arkansas.
"I started playing soccer when I was 3," Vega said. "I liked playing against the older guys and I was ready by the time I got to high school."
Vega will play with his club team, the Arkansas Comets, before continuing his soccer career at Neosho County (Kan.) Community College this fall.
"That's the goal," Vega said. "Junior college first, then a DI school, hopefully."
Sports on 06/23/2019
Print Headline: Vega focused in final season