By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
CLINTON – Oxford’s Meredith Sanford is used to playing high school soccer in cold weather, but Saturday’s conditions bordered on brutal.
“It was freezing, especially with the wind blowing,” the Lady Charger said. “It went right through you.”
Sanford and her North teammates survived the weather – 32 degrees with a wind chill of 23 – but not the match, falling 4-1 to the South in the annual Mississippi Association of Coaches Girls All-Star Soccer Game at Clinton High School’s Arrow Field.
Sara Coleman, the star forward from West Jones, scored two goals to lead the South.
Things heated up fast in the first half with both teams scoring goals in the opening three minutes.
Ridgeland’s LaTesha Fleming gave the North a 1-0 lead in the first minute with an unassisted kick.
The South responded in the third minute to tie the score at 1-1 on a header by Our Lady Academy’s Blake Stefano off a corner kick.
Coleman then scored off an assist from West Harrison’s Micayla Everett to give the South a 2-1 lead in the 32nd minute. Coleman and East Central’s Casey Mixon scored second-half goals.
Tupelo’s Erin Tucker and Sanford both had chances to score late in the second half, but missed.
“I tried, but I just whiffed it,” Tucker said, then smiled. “We had our opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize on them.”
KHIMA’S KICK A WINNER
Amory’s Zach Khima, named the match’s offensive MVP, gave the North a 1-0 victory with his goal in the 17th minute. He got an assist from Madison Central’s Jaylon Brown.
Khima, who scored a state record 57 goals last season, scored 17 goals and had nine assists in limited play this year.
He missed the first week of soccer season playing outside linebacker for the Panthers in football.
“I went on a (recruiting) trip to England and played in some college showcases,” he said. “I probably missed the whole first half of the season.”
Amory’s season was ended in the first round of the playoffs by Florence.
“It just wasn’t meant to be this year,” Khima said.
Saltillo’s Catherine Plunk and Oxford’s Sanford played the final games of their careers Saturday. Both have decided not to play college soccer.
“I think this was it,” Sanford said. “I’m just going to Ole Miss and be a student.”
Tupelo’s Tucker plans to continue playing. She hopes to sign with Belhaven or Delta State while the Golden Wave’s Luke Mason has committed to DSU.
Amory’s Khima, who has scored 74 goals the last two seasons, has narrowed his choices down to three – Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy in England, Florida Southern College and Lindenwood (Mo.) University.
“I go to Florida Southern for a visit Feb. 20-21,” he said. “I should know something by then.”
The Coca-Cola Student Athlete Award went to Gulfport’s Kristen Kinsey while the William Winter Scholar Athlete Award went to Clinton’s Jake Files.
The girls’ offensive MVP was West Jones’ Sara Coleman while the defensive MVP honor went to Ridgeland LaTesha Fleming.
The boys’ defensive MVP was Brandon’s Michael Durr.