The Tigers were caught a little off-guard when Fayetteville jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead within the first three minutes of their match Friday night.
Bentonville, however, regrouped to send the match to a 1-1 tie before halftime, then exploded for four goals in the second half for a 5-1 victory.
“We had chances but didn’t finish in the first half,” Bentonville coach Mike Devaney said. “That’s what we talked about at halftime, and we were able to get those shots and put a few of them away in the back of the net. I was pleased about that.”
Bentonville (6-3-1, 5-3) coupled that win and a victory over Bentonville West to keep in the hunt near the top of the 7A-West Conference standings. The Tigers trail Springdale Har-Ber by two games and Rogers High by one game while being tied with Rogers Heritage and Springdale High with six matches left.
“It’s typical for our conference to be like this,” Devaney said. “It’s going to make for an interesting three weeks. You might see some upsets along the way, and the standings could get interesting.
“Our goal last week was to win those two matches and bounce back after two disappointing losses. We did that with nine goals, but we’re about to run into the meat of the schedule. It could get really difficult.”
— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
The Wolverines opened the second half of 7A-West play by enjoying their first league victory over the season, downing Van Buren 5-3 in a match played at Centerton.
Four different West players scored in the match, including two goals by Tyler Guentz.
“It was huge for our guys,” West coach John Marshall said. “All season long, I knew we had some good shooters, but we weren’t just taking those shots.
“I’m happy they kept going after them, even when Van Buren scored to make it 4-3, and got that extra goal. It helped the players’ morale.”
Patrick Pugh’s second-half goal put West ahead to stay with a 3-2 lead, then Guentz scored his second goal for a 4-2 cushion. Tom Shultz then put the match away with his goal.
“I knew this was one of those matches where we had to be able to play well,” Marshall said. “We were aggressive throughout the match and we stuck to the way we wanted to play. We were able to pull together and get that win.
“Van Buren had another chance to tie the game and took about five shots at the goal, but we held strong and fought tooth and nail to get that next goal.”
— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
With six conference games remaining before postseason play begins, Fayetteville finds itself on the bubble as the only top six teams earn a spot in the state tournament. The Bulldogs are 2-6 in the 7A-West, giving them a one game lead over both Bentonville West and Van Buren, who are 1-7.
They cannot afford to slip up these last three weeks beginning Tuesday at Bentonville West, a team they defeated 1-0 at home on March 16.
Five of the final six games are on the road as they’re at Rogers High on Friday, at Rogers Heritage on April 25, at Springdale Har-Ber on April 28. They then host Springdale High on May 2 before wrapping up the season at Van Buren on May 5.
— Mike Capshaw • @NWACappy
Easter Sunday marked one month since the last time any team was able to trip up Cory Butler’s Wildcats. It was March 16 vs. Springdale High in a 2-0 match.
Tuesday, Har-Ber travels across town to face the Red’Dogs in hopes of evening the season series. Har-Ber’s nine-match winning streak and first-place spot in the 7A-West will be on the line.
The Wildcats have won seven of the nine games in regulation and two in penalty kicks. In the seven regulation wins, Har-Ber has outscored its opponents by 15 goals. Butler’s club has scored a conference-best 22 goals in league matches, and given up just eight, tied for the fewest (Springdale 8).
According to MaxPreps’ latest national soccer rankings, Har-Ber comes in at No. 15, highest among Arkansas schools. Har-Ber took down Rogers Heritage and Rogers High last week – also in MaxPreps’ rankings – to maintain its position as the top-ranked team in Arkansas.
Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
DJ Beeler’s Red’Dogs hope to capture the same magic that led them to a decisive 2-0 win over Har-Ber more than a month ago at Wildcat Stadium.
Springdale, though, more than anything, is looking for the win column after an 0-2 week on the road against Heritage and Rogers. Springdale was shut out, 3-0, in both matches. Prior to last week, the Red’Dogs had allowed just two goals in league play.
Now, Beeler’s team is in a logjam in third place with Heritage and Bentonville, who own tiebreakers at this point.
Despite the two losses, MaxPreps still recognizes Springdale as the No. 23 team in the country and No. 2 team in Arkansas.
Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
The Mounties (8-4, 6-2 7A-West) slipped out of a first-place tie with a 3-1 loss at Springdale Har-Ber on Friday evening.
Juan Sanchez had Rogers’ lone goal. The loss snapped a five-match winning streak. Rogers plays host to a pair of conference opponents this week, beginning with crosstown rival Rogers Heritage on Tuesday. The Mounties defeated Heritage 3-1 in the first meeting. The Mounties also host Fayetteville on Friday.
The War Eagles (10-3, 5-3 7A-West) bounced back from a tough 2-1 loss to league leader Springdale Har-Ber by blanking Springdale High 3-0 on Friday to stay in the conference race.
Heritage could tighten things up a little more by knocking off crosstown rival Rogers High, which is currently second. The War Eagles lost 3-1 to the Mounties earlier this season. They host Van Buren on Friday.
— Paul Boyd • @NWAPaulB