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PREP SOCCER: Bentonville gains two-goal cushion then holds on to defeat Rogers 2-1 in non-conference game

by Rick Fires | March 15, 2023 at 4:35 a.m.
Rogers Mounties Senior Laney Mills (9) and Bentonville Tigers Junior Kayla Hurley (11) via for control during the girls soccer game between Bentonville and Rogers, March 14, 2023, at the Whitey Smith Stadium, Rogers, Arkansas (Special to NWA Democrat-Gazette/Brent Soule)

ROGERS -- Bentonville gained a two-goal lead then held on to beat Rogers 2-1 on Tuesday.

Samantha Ayala and Kayla Hurley scored goals in each half of the non-conference game for Bentonville (4-1-1), which handed Rogers (5-1-1) its first loss of the season. Conference games in the 6A-West won't begin until the week of April 4.

Freshman Lillie Woolridge cut the deficit in half for Rogers when she scored with 17 minutes, 22 seconds left in the match. Minutes earlier, Bentonville goalie Alexa Roldan made a diving attempt on a shot by Grace Nowlin, the Mounties leading scorer. Had Roldan not made the save, Rogers would've tied the game on the goal by Woolridge.

Roldan played the second half at goal keeper for while Larkin Wilson played the first half in the net for Bentonville.

"Both of our (goal) keepers are tremendous," said Bentonville assistant coach Nick Smallridge, who filled in for head coach Steve Porter, who was away because of some teaching responsibilities. "They support one another. Alexa is a senior, a leader, and she's been part of our program the last three years. She's not a loud player but her actions speak very loudly."

Bentonville led 1-0 at halftime on a goal by Ayala with 20:18 left before the break. The shot came from about 30 yards and bounced once before landing high in the Rogers net.

"I tried to hit it the best I could because I could see (the goalie) was further out of the box," said Ayala, a junior who scored her first goal of the season after returning from an injury.

Bentonville then earned a two-goal cushion when Hurley scored about five minutes into the second half.

"A two-goal lead is always dangerous in soccer," Smallridge said. "We hit the post a couple of times that would've made it a bit more comfortable. But our girls showed a lot of composure in an intense environment."

Bentonville had other scoring chances in the first half after Rogers controlled about the first 10 minutes of the game. Hurley delivered a header in front of the net that hit the cross bar and bounced away and another shot emerged from a group of players that hit the left post at the Rogers goal.

The Mounties had the first scoring opportunity after a steal in the backfield but a shot drifted wide of the Bentonville net.

Print Headline: Bentonville holds off Rogers by single goal


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