FAYETTEVILLE — Over the last three years, Maumelle has tried to go deeper into the Class 4A soccer tournament than the previous year. This season, the Lady Hornets advanced the farthest it has ever been by reaching the state finals. However, they suffered a 4-1 setback Saturday to Valley View at Razorback Field in Fayetteville.
"Each year in state, we’ve tried to get a little farther," Maumelle Coach Jessica Beavers said. "In three years, we made the state championship. Our senior leadership is the reason, and they always came ready to practice."
The Lady Hornets (11-8) reached the state championship contest with several one-point victories. They defeated Arkadelphia (1-0), Gentry (2-1) and St. Joseph (1-0, penalty kick 4-2). They even took the first lead Saturday at 1-0 on a goal by Lyndsey Palanca at the 8:40 mark in the first half. Valley View knotted the score at 1-all right before the half and added three more goals in the second period.
"I think the heat got to them," Beavers said. "Last week, we played in the 50’s and this week the 90’s, but I told them Valley View was experiencing the same thing. We scored first but couldn’t keep the composure like we usually did."
Early in the year, Maumelle experienced injuries it had to overcome. Finally around conference tournament time, the Lady Hornets were healthy. In the meantime, they played tough non-conference competition like Cabot and North Little Rock to prepare them for a run in state.
"We struggled a little bit early to mid-season," Beavers said. "We switched some formats around state tournament time and made it harder for teams to prepare for us."
With five seniors, the Lady Hornets return most everyone. At times, six freshmen also saw action. After Saturday’s contest, the five seniors hurried back to Central Arkansas to make their graduation as it was that night.
"Everyone chose state, and their heart was in the game and in the right spot," Beavers said. "We played tough and fought hard."