In the first season under coach Joe Thoma, who began the program in the 1990s, the Bulldogs have shown marked improvement with each game. However, it has yet to result in a winning record (4-7), especially in 7A-West play (1-5).
They contend well for the majority of each match but haven’t been able to sustain it, for the most part, for a complete game. For instance, they battled Springdale High for 55 minutes, only to see a tight match turn into a 4-1 rout in the final 25 minutes of regulation.
After Springdale took the lead with a first half goal by Manuel Soto with 9:55 remaining, the Purple’Dogs quickly answered 71 seconds later with a goal by Thomas Burch.
Fayetteville had two more chances to tie the score at 2-2 down the stretch. But it was unable to capitalize on close shots before the Red’ Dogs punched in two more goals in the final 10 minutes to pull away.
The Purple’Dogs will look for their second conference win with three games this week. They host Van Buren and Springdale Har-Ber on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, before traveling to Bentonville on Friday.
Mike Capshaw • @NWACappy
The Mounties (7-3, 5-1 7A-West) will look to extend their five-match winning streak this week against two teams they are battling for the league lead.
Rogers has outscored five opponents by a combined score of 16-4.
Rogers hosts Springdale High on Tuesday, but travels to face league leading Springdale Har-Ber on Friday.
The War Eagles (9-2, 4-2 7A-West) have caught fire, winning four straight including a big win over Bentonville in penalty kicks on Thursday.
The War Eagles travel to Springdale Har-Ber on Tuesday, then host Springdale High on Friday.
DJ Beeler’s Red’Dogs bounced back from its lone loss in league play with two decisive wins last week against Van Buren and Fayetteville.
Sitting at 9-2 overall entering the week, Springdale has two more crucial matches this week – both on the road. A pair of wins would keep Springdale at the top of the conference’s standings heading into what could be a defining match against Springdale Har-Ber April 18.
But for now, Springdale’s focus is on Rogers, who’s one of three teams in a tie for first place at 5-1 in the 7A-West. The Mounties have won five straight matches since a March 14 loss at home to Har-Ber. The Red’Dogs have six of their last seven and two straight since the loss to Bentonville.
Springdale then travels to Heritage Friday night. The War Eagles are winners of four in a row as well. The key to a pair of wins this week for the Red’Dogs will be remaining consistent defensively. They have allowed just two goals in six league matches and lead the league in goal differential (+14).
The top four teams in the conference have all won at least two straight. Heritage, Rogers and Har-Ber have each won four straight or more.
Rankings update: Springdale comes in at No. 14 in MaxPreps’ latest national soccer rankings.
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
There is no mistake about which team is the hottest in the conference entering this week. It’s Cory Butler’s Wildcats.
Har-Ber won at Fayetteville, 3-1, and at Van Buren, 5-1, last week to grab its sixth and seventh straight wins. Jesus Zizumbo scored twice in the win at Fayetteville and, after the Purple’Dogs scored to make it a 2-1 game, Juan Mejia capped the win with a goal with just under 10 minutes to play.
Esteban Fuentes then stole the show in Van Buren, recording a hat trick. Mejia added his second goal of the week and Ivan Fuentes capped the win with goal No. 5.
Har-Ber returns home for two matches this week against Heritage and Rogers, who have substantial win streaks of their own. A win against the War Eagles would set Har-Ber up nicely heading into the second half of conference play.
Rankings update: Har-Ber’s recent streak has also gained it some national notoriety. According to MaxPreps’ national soccer rankings, the Wildcats come in at No. 23.
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
An 0-2 week against Rogers High and Rogers Heritage last week left Bentonville disappointed, but the way the Tigers played in those two matches had coach Mike Devaney encouraged.
“We didn’t play particularly poorly in either match,” Devaney said. “I thought we actually played well enough to win both of them.
“Against Rogers, we had just as many scoring chances as they did, but they happened to stick one in the goal. Against Heritage, we had a 3-1 lead with 18 minutes remaining. I told our players that sometimes this game can be particularly cruel.”
The losses knocked the Tigers (3-4-1, 3-3) out of a four-way tie for first place, and Bentonville will try to regroup this week with home matches. The Tigers host Bentonville West, then take on Fayetteville to begin the second half of league play.
“The way this shapes up, it’s the first time we’ve played two straight home matches this season,” Devaney said. “It’s going to be an emotional match against West, then we got against Fayetteville. We would love to get two wins this week.”
— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
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