The weekend couldn’t have finished any better for Bentonville’s girls.
The Lady Tigers did what they were supposed to do in order to clinch the 7A-West Conference’s top seed for the Class 7A state tournament with a 4-1 victory Friday over Rogers High. But when Springdale Har-Ber claimed a 4-1 victory over Fayetteville that night, it meant Bentonville (17-2, 12-0) had earned an outright conference championship with two matches left to play.
“It’s a good feeling,” Lady Tigers coach Kristina Henry said. “It’s nice not having everything to go down to the final match. We had a good game except for a few frantic moments there.
“Fayetteville’s loss to Har-Ber was a surprising result, and I didn’t expect that. It puts us right where we want to be. At the beginning of the season, I thought we would be fine and compete, but I really didn’t know where we would fall in the league standings.”
Bentonville closes out the season with Tuesday’s match against Rogers Heritage and Friday’s match at Bentonville West. Henry, however, wants her team to stay sharp heading into next week’s state tournament at Fort Smith Southside.
“Our mindset has to be to play these two matches as well as we can and continue to improve each day,” Henry said. “We can’t take a break right now.”
— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
The Lady Wolverines find themselves in need of a little assistance heading into the final week of the regular season.
West (4-16-1, 3-9) could have taken a big step toward the sixth and final seed for the Class 7A state tournament with a win Friday against Rogers Heritage, a team the Lady Wolverines defeated in a storm-shortened match. Instead, West suffered a 5-4 loss despite a hat trick by Rachel Higgins, who has become the team’s leading scorer in recent matches.
“We really needed that match,” West coach Zach Nidiffer said. “Rachel scores a goal 30 seconds into the match, but Heritage ended up scoring really quick. We trailed 4-2 at halftime and never could get the tying goal.”
West will need at least one win this week and at least one Heritage loss in order to earn a postseason berth. The Lady Wolverines, however, have to do it against both Rogers High and Bentonville High.
“We will have to play really well this week,” Nidiffer said. “Stranger things have happened before.
“We’re just going to go out this week, play soccer and have fun, and let’s see what happens. I want the girls going into these matches with a lot less pressure this time.”
— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
Despite Frday’s 4-1 loss at Springdale Har-Ber, the Lady Purple’Dogs remain in the driver’s seat to finish runner-up in 7A-West play and earn a bye in the first round of the state tournament. Still, they must win out to claim second place outright.
They are 8-3 in conference play and wrap up the slate with three matches this week with Springdale High at home on Tuesday and a road trips to Rogers High on Thursday and to Van Buren on Friday.
The make-up match against the Lady Mounties, which are 7-4 in 7A-West play, will be key. Fayetteville won the first meeting 2-1 in a hard-fought match by both sides on March 28.
Har-Ber, which is 8-4, has won four of its last five heading into its final two matches against Van Buren and Rogers Heritage.
— Mike Capshaw • @NWACappy
Har-Ber has won four of its last five matches heading into the last week of the regular season. That spurt has the Lady Wildcats 8-4 in the 7A-West and alone in third place.
Har-Ber can potentially move into the two spot this week with a couple of wins. Tuesday, the Lady Wildcats can grab win No. 9 in league by putting away winless Van Buren. A trip to Rogers Heritage will close out the schedule on Friday.
Giselle Estrada led Har-Ber to a big win on Friday against Fayetteville. Estrada, Har-Ber’s leading goal-scorer, recorded a pair of goals in a 4-1 win. The Lady Wildcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first half and cruised.
With the win, Har-Ber is now second in the 7A-West in goals scored this season (33), but still a distant second to Bentonville.
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
DJ Beeler’s Lady Red’Dogs are in the state tournament as of now. Clinging to a one-match lead over Bentonville West in the conference standings, Springdale has two matches to secure its spot this week.
The two remaining matches, though, come against Fayetteville and Rogers High, both in the top 4 in the 7A-West. Springdale capped last week with a 5-1 win against Van Buren behind a hat trick from Chela Razo.
Razo’s big night gifted Springdale its fourth win in league play. Zoe Downum and Sarah Vogel, a member of Heather Hunsucker’s Lady Red’Dog basketball team, also netted a goal in the win.
In the first round of league matches, Springdale fell to Fayetteville, 3-1, and Rogers, 4-0. Springdale could get into the state tournament over West merely due to the Lady Wolverines’ opponents this week: Rogers and Bentonville.
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
The Lady Mounties (9-6-1, 7-4 7A-West) will try to bounce back from Friday’s loss to league champion Bentonville with three big matches left in the regular season.
Rogers will play three matches in four days this week to close the regular season, hoping to improve its seeding for the upcoming state tournament. The Lady Mounties host Bentonville West and Fayetteville on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, then travels to Springdale on Friday.
The Lady War Eagles (5-11, 4-7 7A-West) are battling for one of the final two state tournament berths in the 7A-West with three matches left.
Heritage notched a big 5-4 win over Bentonville West on Friday to lift the Lady War Eagles into the No. 5 spot in the league standings. The Lady Wolverines are now currently seventh. The top six spots earn state tournament berths.
But Heritage finishes the season against league champion Bentonville on Tuesday and Har-Ber, which also has a tournament berth locked up. The Lady War Eagles close the season against last-place Van Buren.
— Paul Boyd • @NWAPaulB