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7A Girls Soccer: Bentonville girls headed back to finals

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Photographs by Andy Shupe

Bentonville High’s Tyler Anne Reash (from left), Sydney Suggs, Lauren Hargus and Emma Welch celebrate Saturday after Hargus scored against Springdale Har-Ber at Jim Rowland Stadium at Southside High School in Fort Smith. Visit nwadg.com/photos for more photographs from the match.

FORT SMITH -- Bentonville High is heading back to the 7A state girls soccer championship match.

Senior Lauren Hargus scored on a penalty kick in minute 44 of the game and that was enough to get past Springdale Har-Ber for a 1-0 victory Saturday at Jim Rowland Stadium.

"It is always special getting to the state tournament," Bentonville coach Kristina Henry said. ""It never feels like, 'here we go again.' This group has worked hard. This was our goal to get there again."

Har-Ber (15-7) didn't make it easy for Bentonville, who has won four of the last five state championships, to get back to the title game.

Bentonville (21-3) got its lone goal of the game against Har-Ber junior keeper Mekenna Taylor after drawing a penalty kick on a hand ball in the box was called.

"I thought we played well," Har-Ber coach Fabrizio Campagnola said. "We knew it would be tough to beat Bentonville. We had to make a big defensive effort. This game could've been tied very easily. The penalty kick hurt. That call could've gone either way."

Har-Ber was able to get two shots on goal in the second half that forced a pair of saves from Bentonville junior keeper Maddee East.

The Lady Wildcats had a good opportunity to score with about seven minutes left in the game on a shot on goal from senior Vanessa Reynoso, but it didn't find the back of the net.

"We tried to push there at the end," Campagnola said. "We had some very good looks to tie the game. But they made some good saves. There weren't too many chances on either side because they controlled the ball."

Bentonville didn't have any shots on goal in the first half but picked up the pace in the second half. The Lady Tigers finished with five in the second half while also doubling its overall shot total after the break.

"We knew in the second half we needed to come with more pace," Henry said. "We were a little shy in the first half to take them on. It took a little time. But we got there in the end."

Taylor was a big part of keeping Bentonville from adding to its lead in the second half. She finished with three saves and came out of the box early to stop other scoring opportunities.

"She is a great for us," Campagnola said of Taylor. "She is always in position and on top of that is very athletic. She helps us with ball control as well clearing it out for us. She is a complete keeper and had a great state tournament."

The Lady Tigers had a great opportunity to score when senior Lauren Holly had a shot on goal with 15 minutes left in the game, but it was stopped.

Senior forward Victoria Mitchell also had a shot on goal that required Taylor to make a jumping save to keep it out of the net with just eight minutes left.

"They played with a lot of confidence and were ready for us," Henry said. "They played better than either time we played them this year. They brought a very good game."

Despite getting just one goal in the game, Henry said she was proud of her team making the most of the opportunity of getting the penalty kick and getting good looks after that to advance.

"We had to come and press them," Henry said. "If you don't put some pressure on them, stuff like that won't happen. It was good to create that chance and make the most of it."

Cabot 2, Fayetteville 0

A day after losing in the state final last year, Cabot coach Kerry Castillo talked to his team about turning the page and making it back again.

Mission accomplished for the Lady Panthers.

Cabot used an early goal from junior Tristyn Edgar just 10 minutes into the game to jump out in front to blank Fayetteville in the in the semifinals at the Class 7A girls soccer tournament.

"This has been our goal since day one," Castillo said. "I made it known after making the finals, any other goal less than this is a waste of our time. We made it our goal then even through tears at the time. I'm so proud of this team."

Cabot (23-2) was able to get the early goal, but Fayetteville (17-5) settled in after that and didn't give up another score until four minutes were left in the match.

Freshman Janessa Aguirre added to Cabot's lead late in the game with the goal to help secure the victory.

"They got a little break through us," Fayetteville coach Joe Thoma said. "That is their game and they do it well. After that, we were kind of chasing the goal to tie it after that. You spend a lot of energy doing that."

After giving up the goal in the initial minutes of the game, Fayetteville senior keeper Gracie Cape was able to keep the team in the game.

Cape was tested often but didn't allow another goal until the closing minutes. She finished with a total of eight saves with four in each half for the Lady Bulldogs.

"She has been our rock," Thoma said of Cape. "She is a four-year starter that isn't afraid of anything out there. She hasn't had to make a lot of saves for us because of our defense. But when we need one, she is there."

Fayetteville's best chance to tie the game at 1-1 was when sophomore Regan Resz had a shot go off the post with 24 minutes left in the game.

Sports on 05/14/2017

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