Pontotoc girls, Amory boys advance in playoffs

By Brandon Speck / Monroe Journal

AMORY – Pontotoc and Amory each left Amory happy on Saturday after the Lady Warriors punched a Class 4A North State soccer ticket and the visiting Panthers punched a ticket on the guys side.
Pontotoc got two goals from Carly Naugher in a 4-0 win and will host Newton County on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for a chance to play in the state championship match Saturday.
In extra time in the boys quarterfinal match, junior Zach Khima scored his Class 4A record 56th goal to send Amory to a 2-1 win and to New Albany on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for the Class 4A semifinals.
Pontotoc had beaten Amory twice in the regular season.
“Our guys played tremendous today,” said Amory coach Nathan Clayton, a New Albany graduate who coached there before coming to Amory three seasons ago. “It should have been a 1-0 shutout. The goal they scored I pushed the defense up. If I let them set up where they were, we more than likely have a chance to make a better play on the ball.”
The goal for Pontotoc (15-6-2) came off the foot off Fredy Guiterrez in the final five minutes of the first half and tied the game after Joseph Summers scored in the 25th minute to put Amory up 1-0.
Khima scored four minutes into the first extra time period and Amory held its lead despite an extra three minutes added onto the second extra time’s 10 minutes.
“The guys didn’t give up. They kept getting good opportunities and we did a decent job putting in on frame,” Clayton said. “In fact, we hit several balls off frame in the goal.”
Amory’s last trip to North State came in 2007. Clayton played at New Albany the last time the Bulldogs were in the North finals in 1997.
Amory (16-6-1) had two shots clank off the post and in the final seconds of overtime, Guiterrez had a ball knocked away and Summers cleared a corner kick as the Panthers won an emotional and often chippy battle.
“The emotions are pretty high right now,” said senior Ryan Hill. “It was a lot of pressure. They beat us twice this year and everybody was thinking they were going to beat us again.”
– (G) Pontotoc 4, Amory 0: Naugher scored twice for the Lady Warriors (17-5-1), including the match’s first goal. Shelby Drope made it 2-0 before Naugher added her second score and Rebekah Miller tacked on a late goal.
Naugher said playing with the early lead helped relax her team.
“It’s so much easier. You just get that feeling. We calmed down because we got a goal,” she said.
Pontotoc held super scorer Addie Forbus without a goal, man-marking her with three defenders. The sophomore came in with 52 goals for Amory (13-9).
The teams split two regular-season matches.
“Amory has a good team but we feel like we’re the dominant team in the 4A classification,” said Pontotoc coach Marty Pettit. “Our kids simply stepped up. We do a few things but we just feel we’re solid defensively and we can play with anybody.”