GHS soccer teams still battling for playoff berths

GHS soccer teams still battling for playoff berths

Both Greenwood High School soccer teams are still in the hunt for playoff slots with two weeks left in the regular season. The top four teams in the 5A West will qualify for the postseason state tournament at Hot Springs Lakeside the week of May 9-11. The Lady Bulldogs and Bulldogs are both currently in fifth place with five league matches remaining, starting this Friday at home against Harrison.

The Lady Goblins are ahead of the GHS girls in the standings while the Harrison boys are behind the Bulldogs, making both matches winnable and even necessary for both Greenwood teams to move up the 5A West ladder. Each team gets three points in the league standings for a win, one point for a tie, and no points for a loss. Head coaches Andrew Post and Tyler Woods recently offered their takes on how their teams are performing as the season winds down.

Lady Bulldogs

The GHS ladies came back from spring break and hosted 5A West conference foe Siloam Springs on March 26th at Smith-Robinson Stadium. The Lady Panthers were then unbeaten in league play and remain so today at 9-0, and the Lady Bulldogs were unprepared to take on one of the best girls’ squads in the state, losing big on their home turf. “Returning from spring break we hosted Siloam Springs, and it was a rough showing for us,” said Coach Post. “We lost 7-1 and Farah Crossno had our lone goal.

“The next game (March 28th) was a [winning] road trip to Mountain Home,” the coach continued. “They played a very tough match and limited us to just one goal by Abbey Gatesman on a free kick, and the final was 1-0. The halftime score was 0-0. Though we dominated possession, we had a difficult time putting the ball in the net.

“We hosted Alma next (April 2nd) and it was a great game for the [girls],” said Post. “We dominated possession and had numerous opportunities to score. Abbey Gatesman netted [four goals] and Ally Thomas added one. The score at halftime was 3-0.” Greenwood won 5-0, but the next two matches were real downers for the Lady Bulldogs.

“Greenbrier (April 9th) on the road was a low point,” admitted Post. “We played well below our ability. We just couldn’t seem to get any rhythm. We were missing a key player that night, but still performed below our potential. The final score was 4-0 and it was 2-0 at halftime. Russellville (April 12th) was also a low point,” continued the coach. “We did not play our best soccer and lost 5-0.”

After a pair of disappointing losses, the Lady Bulldogs rallied this past Tuesday on the road at Van Buren. “We bounced back against Van Buren in dominating fashion,” said Post. “It was a 6-0 shutout for our keeper duo of Alyssa Sharp and Trinity Spicer. We had goals by Abbey Gatesman, Farah Crossno, Payton Scantling, Mariah Bartok, and Laynee Post.” It was the best offensive performance of the season for the GHS girls.

“We are sitting in fifth place behind Greenbrier,” offered the coach. “We will more than likely have to beat Greenbrier to get in the playoffs. We can certainly do that, and I don’t think we have begun playing our best soccer yet. So hopefully we will hit our stride soon.” After Harrison this Friday, the Lady Bulldogs have Siloam Springs, Mountain Home, Alma, and Greenbrier remaining on their schedule. Of those five matches, probably three of them are winnable and will likely be necessary for the Lady Bulldogs to make the playoffs.

Bulldogs

The GHS boys and Head Coach Tyler Woods find themselves in a similar circumstance as the Greenwood girls, sitting in fifth place hoping to make a late season run at a playoff slot. The Bulldogs haven’t made the postseason in more than five years, playing in perhaps the toughest soccer league in the state, regardless of classification. Teams from the 5A West – primarily Siloam Springs, Russellville, and Van Buren – have dominated Class 5A for several years now, winning multiple state titles.

Playing the same conference slate as the girls, the Bulldogs also opened with Siloam Springs at home on March 26th and suffered a 3-0 shutout loss to the highly touted Panthers, currently second in the league standings behind Russellville. “They were down a little bit last year, but it seems like they got a couple new kids, and they look to be rejuvenated, back to their old selves,” said Coach Woods of the Panthers.

A scoreless tie (0-0) at Mountain Home followed later the same week, but the Bulldogs finally got back in the win column on April 2nd at home against the Alma Airedales, a 3-0 Greenwood victory. Of the match with the Bombers, Woods said, “We probably controlled possession and had more shots. We just couldn’t find the back of the net. It was a tight game. Both teams played really tough. Mountain Home is a solid team. But we finally found the net a couple times [against Alma].”

Senior Bodey Steinfeldt scored Greenwood’s first goal against the Airedales, and it was 1-0 at the half. Hudson Meeker and David Coggin then scored goals in the second half while the GHS defense kept Alma scoreless for 80 minutes. “That was a big win for us,” said the coach. “It’s always nice to beat Alma. They are getting better every year.”

Greenwood’s next scheduled contest at Greenbrier was set for Friday, April 5th, but the match was pushed back to the following Tuesday due to the weekend wedding of GHS assistant coach Ryan Lensing. There was already a planned open date on Monday the 8th, so Greenbrier was kind enough to agree to the change. When finally played, the match ended in a 3-3 tie.

“We scored early, but Greenbrier answered back,” explained the coach. “Bodey Steinfeldt scored in like the fifth minute of the game, but they scored right back. Then Tucker Wooten hit a nice goal inside the right post, and we go into halftime up 2-1. In the second half Tucker scored on a free kick to make it 3-1, and we’re feeling pretty good. But I think our guys got too comfortable, maybe, and Greenbrier kicked it up a couple of notches and scored two goals. We ended up tied, but it felt like a loss because [winning] would have been a big three points [in the standings].

Another tough two-game stretch followed against first-place Russellville and third place Van Buren in which the Bulldogs were outscored, 8-1. Greenwood lost to the Cyclones, 7-0, on April 12th, and fell 1-0 to the Pointers four days later. “[Russellville] is the best team in the state of Arkansas, and we didn’t approach the game in the right way,” admitted Woods. “[The Cyclones] are just really good, but we tried to put that [loss] behind us.”

The narrow loss to Van Buren was actually a confidence builder for the Bulldogs, showing they can compete against one of the better programs in the state. They hope to use that moral victory as a springboard to the playoffs going forward with five conference matches remaining, at least four of which are winnable contests.

“We played well,” said the coach of his team’s efforts at Van Buren. “We had a couple chances to score and just barely missed. It was 0-0 and Van Buren scored on an accidental fluke [shot] that just went inside the post with about 3½ minutes left in the game. It was heartbreaking, but I told our kids after the game how proud I was, because they showed more fight in that game than they have all year.

“We have five games remaining and we really need to win at least three of those five,” said the coach. “We play Harrison tomorrow (Friday) and that’s a must-win game. I think we can win if we approach it the right way. We beat them 1-0 last time at their place, and we didn’t play our best, so hopefully we can win and get three points.

“Mountain Home is up on us three points, so if we can [beat Harrison] we will be squared up with them again, I believe,” said Woods. The Bombers appear to have the tougher remaining schedule with matches against both Van Buren and Russellville in the next week before coming to Greenwood on the 26th and going to Greenbrier on the 30th.

Speaking optimistically, Woods said, “If we can [beat] Harrison, Mountain Home, and Alma, I don’t think it will even come down to Greenbrier [the season finale]. I would love for it not to come down to Greenbrier one year.” Last season the Bulldogs lost to the Panthers and were knocked out of the playoffs because of it.

“Our destiny is in our hands, which is a good thing,” said the GHS head coach. “So if our guys really want to make it, they will play well against Harrison and we’ll give Siloam Springs our best shot and maybe steal a point there. It just depends on a bunch of different factors. We’re fairly healthy, but it feels like it’s been a long season. Practicing and playing is starting to feel old to these guys. They’re ready to play the games that matter and try to make [the playoffs]. We’ve just got to pull together and finish strong. We just need to take care of business.”

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