Loss in 2021 final provides added incentive for Lady Tigers

Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Blanca Galindo (19) is one of eight Green Forest seniors who returned from last year’s team that finished as the Class 3A state tournament runner-up. Green Forest opens play in this year’s tournament Thursday.
Charles Chappell / CCImages.PhotoShelter.com

The Green Forest Lady Tigers have had a little bit of extra motivation for the 2022 soccer season.

The Lady Tigers have bounced back with an outstanding season after a 6-2 loss to Harding Academy in the championship game of last year’s Class 3A state tournament. But they haven’t forgotten it.

“We’ve matured even more, physically and mentally,” coach Ashley Wilson said Monday. “We’re more prepared in terms of not quite getting what we wanted. So we’re even more hungry and more ready to work.”

The Lady Tigers will begin their pursuit of the 2022 state title on Thursday when they face Mountain View in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament at the Anstaff soccer complex in Harrison. The game is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

Wilson said Monday that she and the Lady Tigers are excited but more than that, they are ready to step on the field.

“We’re just ready for it to get here,” she said.

Green Forest (14-2-1) went undefeated in conference play, but Wilson said the best preparation for the Lady Tigers might have been a tournament they didn’t win — an event in Branson in mid-April that saw Green Forest facing Missouri teams from much larger schools. The Lady Tigers played three games in essentially 24 hours, winning the first two to claim second place in the tournament.

“We played Friday night and then we had two games on Saturday, and it was hot,” Wilson said. “That right there was great preparation.”

So, the Lady Tigers are more mature. They’re motivated. They’re prepared. And they’re incredibly balanced, with a roster full of experienced, talented athletes who seemingly could play anywhere on the field. Eight seniors returned from last year’s state runner-up team and they’re joined by a talented group of underclassmen.

“We have several good players,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of versatile players who could play just about any position. They can take the ball from one end to the other. We have a lot of, in a sense, unstoppable players.”

The Lady Tigers also have a mostly clean injury report, although Wilson says there are a “couple we’re kind of watching.”

That could be key for a Green Forest team that played the majority of last season’s championship game without four starters.

Mountain View enters the state tournament as the No. 4 seed from the North region while Green Forest is the No. 1 seed from the West. But Wilson says it’s critical for the Lady Tigers not to overlook any opponent.

“You’ve got to focus on each game,” she said. “Because everyone is going to be hungry. They’re going to be ready to fight, no matter how skilled that team is."

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