Lady Tigers can’t overcome injuries, Harding Academy

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Green Forest’s Mariana Beltran tries to steal the ball from a Harding Academy player.
Mark Buffalo / Searcy Daily Citizen

For most of the first half Saturday, the Green Forest Lady Tigers held their own against a fast, physical Harding Academy squad in the championship game of the Class 3A girls state soccer tournament.

In the end, however, the Lady Tigers couldn’t overcome the combination of a difficult opponent and a string of key injuries as Harding Academy ran away with a 6-2 victory at the Benton Athletic Complex.

“One of our starters couldn’t play because of a red card she had gotten the previous game,” Green Forest coach Ashley Wilson said. “We had someone to take her place but just a couple of days before we went down there, we had a starter hurt her knee. I tried to get her out there and she went out there a couple of times and hurt herself again. So I had a total of four starters who basically did not get to play much of the game, if at all. We were dealt a bad hand, for sure. We just had to deal with what we have.”

Green Forest tied the score at 1-1 on a free kick by junior Myndy Zamora with 15:48 left in the first half, but Harding Academy took the lead for good with a goal at the 4:59 mark.

“At that point, we had lost the starters,” Wilson said. “And they can try to still be confident, but of course I’m sure that was part of. They kind of lost some momentum and confidence.”

The Lady Wildcats made it 3-1 less than eight minutes into the second half, then scored two goals in a 24-second span to stretch their lead to 5-1 with 21:53 left to play.

Still, Green Forest refused to quit. Trailing 6-1 with less than a minute remaining, the Lady Tigers got a goal from sophomore Emily Lozano to cut the margin to 6-2 with 24 seconds left.

“That still felt good, to get the goal in,” Wilson said.

Green Forest finished the season with a record of 14-2, including seven consecutive wins heading into Saturday’s game. Several key players will be back next season, including Zamora and Lozano.

“It’s something to be proud of, the first time to ever make it that far and to have as good a season as we had,” Wilson said.

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