7A-West Girls Soccer Notebook

The Lady Purple’Dogs are 5-1 heading into Tuesday’s home match against Bentonville, which is the 7A-West opener. Cabot handed Fayetteville its only setback, a 4-0 loss on Friday. But it bounced back with a 1-0 win against Maumelle on Saturday during the Harrison Tournament.

It was Fayetteville’s second tourney after it won the Fort Smith Tournament the previous weekend. With 12 seniors gone off of last season’s 7A state semifinalist team, winning a tourney was a welcome start to the season.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Fayetteville coach Joe Thoma speaks to his players Tuesday, April 12, 2016, before the Bulldogs' game with Bentonville at Harmon Stadium in Fayetteville. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the matches.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE
Fayetteville coach Joe Thoma speaks to his players Tuesday, April 12, 2016, before the Bulldogs’ game with Bentonville at Harmon Stadium in Fayetteville. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the matches.

“We were surprised for the girls to win the tourney,” said coach Joe Thoma. “We were a little rough and didn’t play very good soccer the first game, but we ended up winning and then really beating two playoff teams from the (7A-Central) in Bryant and Cabot. The girls really stepped up and had to come from behind to beat Cabot, so that was nice to see.”

Sophomore forward Reagan Resz was named the MVP of the Fort Smith tourney. The team also features several solid players, including Myra Tubb, Emily Power, Payton Woodward and Bailey Lindsey, among others. Midfielder/forward Morganne Browning and forward Georgia Templeton are “two dynamic freshman,” Thoma said. He also said senior Grade Cape is a leader and returning starter at keeper.

“We’re a good, solid defense and she’s in the middle of that for sure,” Thoma said.

Rogers High
The Lady Mounties enter 7A-West Conference play with some momentum, after going 2-1 in the Greenwood tournament to finish third.

Rogers (2-2-1) sandwiched a 6-0 win over Van Buren and a 2-1 win over Holland Hall (Tulsa, Okla.) around a 2-0 loss to Mount St. Mary. Coach Aaron Crouch likes the progress his team has made in nonconference play.

“We’ve made massive improvements in organization, understanding where we’re supposed to be,” Crouch said. “Defensively and team organization have been the biggest improvement on our side.

“We made some changes and I knew it would take time for the kids to adjust to those changes. We’re very excited for conference play. I maybe would have liked one more game before conference, but all of our preconference games did what we hoped they would do.”

Sienna Nealon
Sienna Nealon

Senior Sienna Nealon, who struggled with injuries a year ago, has started strong. But Crouch also likes what he’s seen from freshmen goalkeeper Mackenzie Brace and freshman forward Haley Arrick.

“We’re really excited about Haley, she scored two goals in her first varsity match,” Crouch said. “Mackenzie has really stood up and is playing lights out. It’s a big deal for them to come right in and have an impact like that.”

Rogers opens league play Tuesday by hosting Springdale Har-Ber, then travel to crosstown rival Rogers Heritage on Friday.

Rogers Heritage
The Lady War Eagles (1-3) picked up their first win of the season over the weekend, blanking Benton 3-0 in the Conway Tournament.

Coach Skye Stover said his team has shown improvement in its nonconference matches.

“Right now we’re learning to trust each other with new positions filled since last year, for lack of a better term growing into it. We’re definitely growing.”

“Persistance and perseverance are two things I preach that are showing on the field.”

A pair of midfilders have stood out thus far for the Lady War Eagles, Stover said.

“Kate Mellon has been doing well,” Stover said. “She’s consistent winning the ball. Lanee Knight, a freshman, she’s came on and helped move the ball up top. Being a freshman, she’s accepted the responsibility and taken it in stride.”

Heritage has been outscored by a combined total of 8-1 in its three losses this season. The Lady War Eagles open 7A-West Conference play at Springdale High on Tuesday, then hosts Rogers High on Friday.

Springdale High
After a week without a match, Donald Beeler and his Lady Red’Dogs (1-1) open 7A-West play Tuesday against Rogers Heritage. Springdale capped its nonconference schedule last Tuesday with a 3-1 home win against Shiloh Christian.

Senior Chela Razo scored a pair of goals in the win to lead Springdale. Beeler is hoping Razo can continue her play throughout the conference season. The Lady Red’Dogs won just one league game a season ago, but appear to have the talent to surpass that total this year.

Springdale opens league play at home against Heritage Tuesday before traveling across town to face rival Springdale Har-Ber at Wildcat Stadium.

Springdale Har-Ber
Fabrizio Campagnola’s Lady Wildcats begin 7A-West play 2-2 overall with wins over Arkadelphia, 11-0, and Valley View, 1-0, in the Conway Tournament.

Arkadelphia, a class 4A school, is 0-5 and has given up at least 5 goals in each match this season against just three goals – all in the season opener at Warren. But, Har-Ber is 2-1 against in-state schools, scoring 16 goals this season – second most among 7A-West schools. The Lady Wildcats have allowed just seven, third fewest in the conference.

Har-Ber travels to Rogers High Tuesday to kick off 7A-West play before hosting Springdale in its conference home opener.

– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie

Bentonville High

Bentonville has only four regular-season matches under its belt heading into the 7A-West Conference opener Tuesday at Fayetteville, but coach Kristina Henry believes her team is ready for the challenge the league presents.

“I think they’ve been anticipating it,” Henry said. “We’re entering conference play healthy, and that’s a good sign. There are a lot of games to be played in the conference, and those games will take a toll on a team.”

The Lady Tigers (3-1) were tested early, playing Oklahoma 6A state champion Jenks in an exhibition match and state runnerup Edmond North before playing three matches in the River Valley Cup, including a 3-0 win over Mount St. Mary in the championship game.

“That was some stout teams,” Henry said. “They exposed a lot of the weaknesses and gave us a good look at where we need to improve and elevate our play.”

Henry has been pleased with some of the promise shown by some of the younger Bentonville players so far and how they have meshed with the experienced players. She credits freshman Angelina Diaz with a lot of grit and determination, as well as freshman Sydney Suggs in the midfield and Simone Norvell and Brianna Willis in the backfield.

Bentonville West

Lady Wolverines coach Zach Nidiffer knew his team would experience some growing pains during its inaugural season, but West’s girls have experienced different kinds of pain along the way.

“We’ve been plagued with injury and sickness since the first game,” Nidiffer said. “It’s frustating because we haven’t been fully stocked since then, but we’re hoping to be back and be healthy soon.”

West (1-5-1) started Friday’s match at Owasso, Okla., without four players, but the Lady Wolverines held their own until a goal late in the first half. Things then fell part as West lost four more players in the second half, and Owasso came away with a 6-0 win.

“We just ran out of energy and ran out of players,” Nidiffer said. “Hopefully we have used up all our injuries and illnesses by now.”

The Lady Wolverines will begin 7A-West Conference play Tuesday at Van Buren — a late change because Wolverine Stadium will host a track meet that night. In the meantime, Nidiffer has focused on what he calls “the small victories” and has seen his share in the early part of the season.

“I’ve seen a lot of improvement with some of our newer players,” he said. “We played Owasso without two of our starting defenders and two of our starting attackers. We shifted some people around and played well until the injuries piled up. I think they are starting to come together.”

— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry

Mike Capshaw
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Mike Capshaw

Sports writer at NWA Media
Mike primarily covers Fayetteville and Farmington.
Mike Capshaw
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