Benton must get past Siloam for title

Benton freshman Emma Selph shoots for a goal during the 6A West Conference Tournament in Benton recently. Selph leads the Lady Panthers with 24 goals this year as Benton will face three-time defending champion Siloam Springs today in the 6A state title game at 2 p.m. at Razorback Field in Fayetteville. GREG DAVIS/Special to The Saline Courier
By: 
TONY LENAHAN
Sports Editor

With a 1-0 victory over Mountain Home this past Saturday in the 6A State Tournament semifinals, the Benton Lady Panthers soccer team punched its ticket to the 6A championship game for the first time in history.
It's been a stepping stone of sorts for the Lady Panthers for the past three seasons as they go on to face familiar foe and thorn in Benton's side Siloam Springs Lady Panthers today in the state title game, to be played at 2 p.m. at Razorback Field in Fayetteville.
In 2016, Benton fell to Siloam 7-1 in the 6A state quarterfinals and Siloam would top Benton again in 2017, this time in the state semifinals, the first time the Lady Panthers made it to the semis, with a 3-0 win over Benton.
The two teams matched up again this season in the 6A West Conference championship game, with Siloam getting the best of Benton 5-2 to earn the West No. 1 seed, with the Lady Panthers coming away with the 2 seed.
But, the slates are clean as 16-4 Benton and 21-2-2 Siloam Springs, the three-time defending state champs and ranked No. 1 in the state (maxpreps.com), meet up today at 2. Siloam's only two losses this season came to Conway (2-0) and Harrison (1-0) and are currently on a nine-game win streak.
The Lady Panthers also fell to Conway 2-0, lost 2-1 to Little Rock Christian Academy (who is playing in the 5A state championship) and fell to rival Bryant 5-1 (which played in the 7A state title this morning) before falling to Siloam in the West title game.
Benton defeated Texarkana 3-1 in the state quarterfinals before topping Mountain Home in the semis and were on an 11-game win streak before its loss to Siloam, winning 13 of its last 14 games. But, Siloam is the three-time defending champion for reason, said Benton Coach Jason Gentry after the Lady Panthers' semifinal win.
"When you look at Siloam Springs, they're on the top of the mountain for a reason," Gentry said. "That's where we're trying to get our program to be. In order to get where we want to, you've got to knock them off at some point."

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