BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Mena Bearcat Soccer team made history when they brought home the Arkansas Class 4A State Runner-Up trophy last Saturday, May 20. Bearcat fans made the trek to Razorback Field at the University of Arkansas to cheer on the team who made it to the final dance for the first time in Mena’s school history.
Led by Coach Craig Bentley, the boys gave it their all as they battled the Dardanelle Sand Lizards for the title. The game was 1-0 when the second half began with the Sand Lizards ahead. Dardanelle was able to keep their rhythm going until the end, taking the top spot after defeating the Bearcats 5-0.
Although, they brought home the Runner-Up trophy, their fans and school could not be more proud of the season they have had. Coach Bentley said, “These kids have earned everything they have gotten all year. We had a great mix of upperclassmen, foreign exchange students, and younger players who really meshed well together. We made it our goal to win the conference championship and we knew if we did that, the rest would take care of itself.”
With a Conference Championship and a State Runner-Up title, the Bearcats’ record this year stands at 16-4, with a 9-1 conference record. “I’m really proud of how our kids represented themselves throughout the year. It didn’t end like we had hoped, but there was a lot to celebrate from this year. It wasn’t always easy, but they found a way to win the conference championship and play through the state tournament and earn a state championship game birth. They helped put Mena soccer back on the map, now we just hope to keep it going in the coming years.”
Coach Bentley also explained how the support system of family and fans help boost the team and are always there to comfort them no matter what. “I especially want to thank my wife, Sarah. It is not easy being a coach’s wife, plus being busy with her own job and running our two kids around to their multiple activities. She does an awesome job. I know win or lose she is always there to support me 110%.”