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Barton women headed to Region VI semifinal with win at Dodge
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The Barton women’s soccer team is back in familiar territory. Thanks to an impressive 3-0 win at Dodge City to start Region VI playoff action, the Cougars are back in the region semifinals.
It is a place the Cougars are very familiar with. In fact this is the fourth straight season the Cougars have made it to the semifinals.
For their reward, the Cougars will be taking on the No. 6 ranked team in the country in semifinal action Thursday in Topeka. Barton will take on Butler at 11 a.m.
It was the sixth straight win for the Cougars, now 9-6 on the season. Barton entered the playoffs as the No. 5 seed. Dodge City, which ended its season at 10-7, was the No. 4 seed.
The win avenged an earlier season defeat to the Conquistadors. Dodge had beaten Barton by a 2-1 margin back in September.
“Our players wanted a rematch with Dodge City after the regular season loss,” Barton Coach Aaron Avila said. “It’s not often you get a second chance during the same season but our girls took advantage of the opportunity.”
Barton earned their trip to the semifinals and a date with 17-2 Butler thanks to a big second half. The two teams went to halftime tied 0-0.
Barton broke that scoreless tie with less than 10 minutes into the second half. The Cougars rode the leg of freshman standout Jennifer Mendez to the lead. Mendez scored her 15th goal of the year with 36:49 left in the contest on an assist from Natalie Espino-Kennedy. For Kennedy, a freshman as well, it was her sixth assist.
The Cougars gave themselves some breathing room with another goal 11 minutes later. Samantha Thompson made it 2-0 on an assist from Nineth Fuentes. For Thompson is was just her second goal of the year but the second in as many games for the freshman.
Barton put the game away with 11 minutes left in the contest when Denise Cuenca scored on another assist from Fuentes. The Utah freshmen combination gave Barton a 3-0 lead with 11:43 left and secure the win.
Now the focus turns to a very powerful Butler team. Butler rolled through the conference with an 11-0 mark and beat Hesston 4-1 to open Region VI play.  Butler hasn’t lost since back-to-back losses in early September in a tournament a Tyler, Texas.
During that time Butler has 10 shutouts in a 13-game winning streak. That includes a 6-0 blanking of Barton in late September.
Barton is playing its best soccer of the season as well. Since that loss to Butler, Barton has gone 7-1 and is riding that 6-game winning streak.
“Our players are developing and playing with confidence,” Coach Aaron Avila said. “We will need every player to step up and play their best soccer in our upcoming game against Butler.”
The other semifinal will pit No. 14 Johnson County (18-2-1) against Hutchinson (12-4).
The finals will be Friday at 10 a.m.