Little Rock -
The newly formed NPSL Heartland Conference launched this week with a group of six clubs which will include, the Little Rock Rangers, FC Wichita, Tulsa Athletic, Joplin Demize, Liverpool Warriors (Dallas, TX) and expansion side Ozark FC (Northwest, AR). All six clubs will face each other once at home and once away to complete the 10-match Heartland Conference schedule.
The former South Central Conference has been one of the fastest growing conferences in the country, having expanded each of the past three seasons. The members of the South Central have elected to split into two separate conferences: the Lone Star Conference and the Heartland Conference.
The previous South Central Conference has been won twice by the Tulsa Athletic (2013, 2014) and once by FC Wichita (2015). Last year’s title holder, Dutch Lions FC, will be competing in the new Lone Star Conference with the Fort Worth Vaqueros, Shreveport Rafters, and Houston Regals, along with expansion sides Midland/Odessa FC (Midland, TX) and Tyler FC (Tyler, TX).
“Splitting the South Central in half made the most sense logistically. We always have to be looking at the future with expansion opportunities and giving ourselves room to grow,” Jonathan Wardlaw, Heartland Conference Liaison and President/GM of the Little Rock Rangers said. “Also, unlike last year, being able to play each other in a home and away series will create better parity and allow each team’s record to speak for itself. This format should simply paint a better picture of who are the best teams in the conference.”
The regular season will end on Saturday, July 8th with the top four teams competing for the conference title. The Heartland Conference Semifinals will be on Wednesday, July 12th, with the No. 1 seed hosting the No. 4 seed and the second seed hosting the third. The two winners will face off in the Heartland Conference Final on July 15th, hosted at the higher seed’s venue.
The Heartland Conference champion will then advance to face the Lone Star Conference Champion in the regional semi-finals on July 22nd. Hosting rights will be given to the team with the higher regular season Points Per Game. From there, the winner will face the winner of the Southeast/Sunshine Conference regional semifinal.
“The Heartland Conference will be a highly competitive conference, especially with former champions Tulsa Athletics and Wichita FC competing in it. However, through a large number of returning players from last year, consistency, and hard work we are expecting to be at or near the top of the table in this conference,” said Little Rock Rangers Head Coach Will Montgomery. “In addition, with Ozark FC joining the NPSL, and competing in the Heartland Conference, this will create an immediate battle for state dominance in Arkansas. We look forward to another a successful season, and hosting these teams at War Memorial Stadium.”
The 2017 Heartland Conference schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
About the Little Rock Rangers Soccer Club
In 2015 the Little Rock Rangers were accepted to compete in the South Region of the National Premier Soccer League and held their inaugural season in 2016 with games at historic War Memorial Stadium, in the heart of Little Rock, Arkansas. The Rangers were accepted in the Women’s Premier Soccer League in the summer of 2016 and the women’s side will begin play in 2017.
The Little Rock Rangers strive to improve soccer in the greater central Arkansas area by bringing in top quality players and coaches in order for the local youth to have an examples of how the sport should be played. One of the goals of the club is to be able to provide local soccer club scholarships to underprivileged but motivated children in the area, through extra revenue from ticket sales and donations received.
The Little Rock Rangers Soccer Club is a 501(c)3 tax exempt corporation.