Tupelo Lady Wave rolls into soccer playoffs

By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Just how formidable of an opponent is the Tupelo High girls soccer team?
As the Lady Wave gets set to play Horn Lake at home today in a MHSAA Class 6A first-round playoff matchup, let’s just go through some of the reasons:
– The undefeated Lady Wave (19-0) only allowed one goal while scoring 122 times in 19 contests this season. Not to mention, most of the team’s scoring is coming from someone other than arguably their best player and last season’s leading scorer, Georgia Russell.
Russell, a 40-goal scorer from a year ago and the 2009-10 Daily Journal Player of the Year, has moved to an outside midfielder position this season.
Freshman Charde Hannah currently leads the team in goals (25), but she’s not the only one who can score on a regular basis. There’s Abby Phillips (20 goals, 17 assists) and Erin Tucker (18 goals).
“You rarely see a team like ours where if somebody asked, ‘Who’s your leading scorer?,’ nobody would know,” said coach Shelley Miller. “Because it’s (the scoring) so spread out.
“And which is what I think makes us the most dangerous against other people, because it’s not like you can pick out one person to mark up and keep them from scoring.”
– The Lady Wave have a quick-strike offense.
“We’ve actually worked really hard in the past year or so to cut down on the number of passes we make before we attack,” Miller said. “We’re trying to speed up our attack a little bit, and this has been the first year that we’ve really been good at doing that.
“We’ve been less concerned about the possession and more concerned about attacking with speed.”
According to Miller, Russell, an Ole Miss commitment, has done an excellent job of playing balls into the team’s forwards.
– Tupelo features two exceptional goalkeepers in Kat Stratton (22 saves) and Hannah McCarty (20 saves).
“They are awesome,” Miller said. “They both have everything it takes to be top-notch keepers, and we’re blessed as a team to have two keepers who can play like that.
“A lot of teams have one keeper; a lot of teams don’t have any – they rotate field players in. For us to have two keepers of that level is awesome.”
– While watching Tupelo play during the season, you can see the experience and strength of the Tupelo defense.
“We changed our defense up a little bit this year,” McCarty said, declining to offer up any specific details about the Lady Wave’s defensive strategies. “We work really well together.
“We played together for a really long time with Select (Soccer) and it evolved into high school, so we just know each other’s moves and we just know how to work together.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or john.wilbert@journalinc.com.

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