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Class B girls: Mallory Minturn scores two goals in Bennington's win over Omaha Duchesne

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Bennington’s “secret weapon” is no longer a secret.

Sophomore forward Mallory Minturn scored a pair of second-half goals, including the winner in the 61st minute, to lead Class B No. 6 Bennington to a 3-1 win over third-ranked Omaha Duchesne on Wednesday night in the opening round of the girls tournament.

The first state tournament win in program history pushes the Badgers into Saturday’s 2 p.m. semifinal to face No. 2 Norris.

Minturn, who missed nearly a month of the season with a knee injury after a collision with a keeper on opening weekend, returned to the starting lineup in mid-April.

Bennington coach Alex Saunders said the coaching staff found a role more suited for her up-tempo style down the stretch.

“We realized she’s really our sparkplug coming off the bench, kind of that secret weapon that not a lot of people see,” Saunders said. “So she comes in, lights one up for us, and it just gives us the momentum to keep going.”

Minturn did just that again Wednesday. Twice, in fact.

Her first came just past the midway point of the second half, when she burned around a defender to get to a ball from teammate Mia Hurt. Minturn deposited it into the right side of the goal in a one-on-one situation with keeper Izzy Johnson.

It was almost an identical scenario 10 minutes later, but this time Minturn used a bit of physicality, discarding a defender to reach another assist from Hurt, this time going high with a left-footed blast for the insurance score.

Both goals, Minturn’s fifth and sixth of the season, came in an eerily similar way to the play that caused her injury in March, she said.

“And so just getting those two goals when I’m running straight at her and just kind of going is just really nice,” Minturn said. “I think it was a lot of mental toughness, having to go into it knowing that I have to go 100% because my team needs me.”

Bennington struck early, too.

Hurt floated a ball from well outside the box on an angle to the right, all the way to the back post. Her 17th of the season went off the frame and bounced in with 43 seconds off the clock.

Duchesne equalized late in the half, when Janie Peterson used her head to flick a corner from Claire Niehaus into the backside, the freshman’s 11th goal of the season.

The Bennington victory avenged a 2-1 loss to the same Cardinal team in last week’s subdistrict final. Now comes another shot at redemption against conference foe Norris, which beat the Badgers 1-0 in the first 10 days of the season.

Minturn didn’t play in that match against Norris.

“It’s going to take a lot of confidence in our team, and a lot of confidence in each other, and just knowing that we’re a better team and that we can do this and come out on top,” she said.

Saunders, a Norris grad, said her team will need to play connected like it did Wednesday night.

“Anytime you can play against your alma mater and beat them,” she said before catching herself, “hopefully beat them, it’s fun, right? Again, they’re a good team and they’re going to bring it. So we need to be ready.

“If we can come together as one, like we did tonight, I think we’ll be fine.”

Omaha Duchesne (15-4)....1  0—1

Bennington (14-5).............1  2—3

GOALS: OD, Janie Peterson; B, Mia Hurt, Mallory Minturn 2.


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Nick covers high school soccer, wrestling and other sports for The World-Herald.

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