By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Nathan Hall ordered a first-round playoff win from his Tupelo High boys soccer team. He got just that in the form of a 4-0 shutout of Division 1-6A runner-up Olive Branch on Thursday night at Tupelo School.
Hall’s Division 2-6A champion Golden Wave (15-4-1) will play next at Northwest Rankin in Saturday’s MHSAA Class 6A quarterfinals. The match is slated for 1 p.m.
Not looking past their first-round opponent but wanting to be prepared if they were to advance to the quarterfinals, Hall and Co. attended Northwest Rankin’s 3-1 first-round playoff win over Clinton on Tuesday night.
However, in order to have a rematch with Northwest Rankin – a team that eliminated the Wave from the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 – Tupelo had to pass its first exam of the playoffs on Thursday night.
They were certainly prepared for it.
“They had a little bit of a weakness on their right side,” Hall said about Olive Branch’s defense. “We just kind of take whatever they give us.”
Hunter McGhie started the scoring for the Wave just 8 minutes and 10 seconds into the game.
“The left midfield on their side wasn’t getting back and I slid in behind them. I can’t remember who punted me the ball in, but it was a gorgeous ball,” McGhie said of his goal. “I took a touch and I hit a bad shot, but it snuck right in the near post under the keeper.
“So, it was a little bit of luck, but they all count.”
The Wave didn’t need any luck on its second goal of the first half.
“It was a great through ball by Luke Mason,” said Garrett Rogers, who scored on a breakaway with 26:49 remaining before halftime. “I took a touch and the keeper came out and I flicked it over him and scored.”
Tupelo would add two more goals in the second half off two rebounds.
“Garrett Rogers had a good shot that went off the keeper,” Jay Jourdan said of his goal, which came nearly 10 minutes apart from Alx Little’s first second-half strike for the Wave. “We’re always taught to follow up the shot, and I followed up the shot and the keeper didn’t catch it. I just poked it in.”
The Wave’s offensive attack – led by Mason’s two assists and one apiece from Jackson Nabors and Rogers – coupled with a smothering defense and a pair of standout goalkeepers in Ben Schaefer and Nathan Wallace were just too much for the Conquistadors.