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Grizzlies rebound from slow start

Back-to-back losses in early March seemed to be just the wakeup call Fort Smith Northside needed, said coach Mauricio Maciel.

Since falling to Russellville 4-3, and Bryant, the Grizzlies have responded with five straight wins in convincing fashion including three shutouts.

"We got off to a slow start but it was matter making sure we got the team playing together and connecting the dots," Maciel said. "Now we are starting to play more like a team and not as individuals."

The loss to Russellville was especially tough as Northside made a number of costly self-imposed mistakes.

"Everything in that loss, we did to ourselves," Maciel said. "After that game we met with the players and told them we have the roster to do big things, but if we continue to have mental lapses and no focus, we don't have a chance."

Northside's resurgence has the Grizzlies (7-3-1, 5-1 7A-Central) atop the league standings heading into tonight's road game at crosstown Fort Smith Southside.

Senior Jason Mendoza has been a team leader for Northside, Maciel said, and sophomore Ricky Iturriaga has also been a main cog in the attack.

"They have played consistently well," Maciel said. "They can create changes on their own and if they get a couple of chances, they will put a goal in."

Defensively, keeper Eric Flores, who did not play last season, has been big for the Grizzlies.

The Battle of Rogers Avenue moves to the soccer pitch tonight, and Maciel said this match is always close no matter what the team records are.

"They always rise to the occasion," Maciel said of Southside. "We tell our kids not to take them for granted because Southside always shows up to play."


Loss motivates Lady Tigers

No team ever wants to lose, but sometimes a setback can be just the thing to get a team's focus back where it needs to be.

Bentonville High (10-2, 5-1 7A-West) had a length conference winning streak snapped in a 1-0 loss to Springdale High on March 29. The match was decided on penalty kicks after it ended in a 0-0 tie at the end of regulation.

"It helped us refocus. It got their heads in the right place," Lady Tigers coach Kris Henry said. "Anytime we lose, we're going to learn something from it. We definitely used it as a learning process.

Bentonville rebounded with two wins last week, including a dominating 3-1 win against Rogers High. Rogers and Bentonville share the 7A-West lead at 5-1.

"It was a good win," Henry said. "We had lost a game that was tough to lose on penalty kicks and those are always hard. You spend a lot of energy and you get to the penalty kicks and it's that mental part of the game. Having lost that and rebounding again and getting that win against Rogers was important. The girls came with a lot of energy."

Henry said the Lady Tigers have gotten consistent play from senior Madison Howard, who leads the team in scoring. Junior midfielders Taylor Muff and Carrie Kotoucek have also played well along with keeper Madee East, who has given up just two goals in conference play.

The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Lady Tigers this week with two road matches. First up is a crosstown match at Bentonville West on Tuesday, then a key league contest at Fayetteville on Friday.

"It is big because it's always a battle with them," Henry said of Friday's match at Fayetteville. "I don't think it would matter what our records are. It will separate us a little bit if we can get two wins this week."

Preps Basketball on 04/10/2018

Print Headline: Prep Soccer Report

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