Finding their place among the state's elite

BY GENE PHELPS
Daily Journal

TUPELO – There will be no champion crowned at the end of this weekend's Tupelo High School soccer tournament.

Winning a tournament is not the focus of the two-day, five-team, seven-match event, says Golden Wave coach Danny Porter.

“We're just playing games,” he said. “We're calling it a tournament. We're all just interested in playing to see where we stand.”

The tournament opens Friday with two games at THS football stadium. The opener will have Starkville against Pearl, kicking off at 5:30 p.m. A match between the Golden Wave and Clinton scheduled to follow at 7.

Saturday's lineup gets an early start with Pearl playing Olive Branch at 9 a.m. Tupelo plays Starkville at 10:30 in the second morning match.

At noon, Clinton takes on Olive Branch, followed by Tupelo and Pearl at 1:30 p.m., and Clinton against Starkville at 3.

“We've got some good teams playing here,” Porter said. “Clinton's one of the top teams in the Jackson area. Pearl's always a contender.”

Defense is booting Wave

Tupelo (6-0-1) tied Madison Central 1-1 last week in its last outing.

The Golden Wave defeated the Jaguars 1-0 earlier this season in Tupelo.

The Wave fell behind 1-0 in the first half, but rallying later in the half to tie the score on John Payne's goal. John Mark Scruggs provided the assist.

“It was one of the better games we've played,” Porter said. “Both teams had attacking chances.”

Porter said the key for his team's early season success has been its defensive play. The Wave defenders are goal keeper Tommy Pharr, fullbacks Ben Baxter, Drew Napier and Will Stewart, stopper Ben Mathis and sweeper Keith Armstrong.

“We moved (Ben) Mathis from two weeks ago from midfield,” Porter said. “It really solidified our defense.”