By Kyle Alford
Special to the Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo Lady Wave advanced to the Class 6A state soccer semifinals with a 1-0 win Saturday against the Clinton Lady Arrows.
Sophomore defender Liza Wise scored the lone goal for Tupelo in the game’s seventh minute after receiving a cross from junior Sarah Lambert Hollingsworth.
“Sarah Lambert’s good ball definitely helped me a lot. We’ve been working a lot on crosses at practice, and the adrenaline that everyone brought just helped me score,” Wise said.
Overall, Lady Wave coach Hannah Kimbrough was pleased with the effort and showing her team put up in the state quarterfinal.
“I feel like we came out and executed our game plan exactly how I wanted us to,” she said. “Give Clinton credit though, they fought us hard. Our girls had a heck of an effort today, and probably had one of the better games we’ve played as a team this season.”
Clinton (16-3-3) defeated Tupelo 1-0 earlier this season in Clinton.
Tupelo (14-2) had a strong defensive effort against a physical Clinton team. Freshman goalkeeper Mary Kate Grayson made two crucial stops early in the first half to deny the Lady Arrows a score.
Junior defender Emily Wright also played a large role in Tupelo’s defensive success.
“I think we held them up pretty well,” Wright said. “They were a physical and fast team but we were strong enough to hold up.”
Tupelo will play Madison Central, who beat DeSoto Central 4-1 on Saturday, in the state semfinals on Tuesday. The Lady Jaguars defeated Tupelo 2-0 in a Jan. 17 match in Madison.
“Madison is probably the best team we’ve played,” KImbrough said. “They’re very physical and very talented. Obviously they’re our biggest rival.
“What a great opportunity we have here. These girls want to play Madison Central, so they’re going to get what they want, and we are excited about that.”
Tupelo is no stranger to the state semifinal game, having participated the last four seasons. Last season the Lady Wave lost in the state championship match.
Senior McKenzie Darnell has been on all of those teams, and is prepared to go back.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “Of course (a semifinal game) adds a lot of pressure and a motivational factor on us as a team. It’s win or go home. It’s something we work hard for.”