By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
PONTOTOC – Pontotoc has never hosted a state semifinal game in the history of its girls’ soccer program.
On Thursday, the Lady Warriors took one step closer to achieving history as they downed visiting Center Hill 4-0 in the opening round of the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs.
“Our main goal here at Pontotoc is to play defense to get the ball to the offense,” said Pontotoc coach Marty Pettit. “We did that well tonight, I thought we dominated 90 percent of the game.”
After a scoreless first half, it was all Dropes in the second half.
Sisters Hannah and Shelby Drope handled all of Pontotoc’s scoring, adding two goals apiece to send the Lady Warriors (16-5-1) to the state quarterfinals, where they will face Amory on Saturday.
“This being our senior year, it’s special,” said older sister Hannah, who scored Pontotoc’s first goal less than five minutes into the second half. “Hopefully we will come out and do well Saturday.”
Younger sister Shelby got in the act just over a minute later, scoring on an almost identical play.
From the front of the box, Shelby snuck the ball past goalie Alyson Hudson for a 2-0 lead with 34 minutes to play.
The Lady Warriors secured the game with Hannah’s second goal off a penalty kick and Shelby’s second score that went off Hudson’s hands and off the side post into the net.
Even in a scoreless first half, Pontotoc kept Hudson busy with 19 shot attempts. Center Hill (6-12) was held to two shot attempts the entire game.
Late goal lifts Warriors
Center Hill goalie Boone Fredrick was perfect on his first 17 save attempts. However, Fredrick’s perfect night ended on the 18th attempt.
Off a deflection, Fredy Guiterrez continued his attack and placed the ball perfectly in the net in the 74th minute for the only goal of the contest, and a 1-0 Pontotoc victory.
“That’s what we’ve preached all year is effort, effort, effort,” Warrior coach J.T. Thompson said. “You get a deflection off something, they’re still attacking and wanting to score.”
The Warriors (15-5-2), who will travel to Amory as well Saturday, controlled the tempo of the game, outshooting Center Hill (12-7) 24-8.
Center Hill’s best opportunity to score came in the 54th minute, when Dalton Shepard’s wide open shot hit the side of the net.