By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
CLINTON – The ending of David and Goliath never changes – David always slays the giant.
Brandon coach Celeste Bramlett had her Brandon Lady Bulldogs believing they were David heading into Saturday night’s MHSAA Class 6A girls soccer championship match against Tupelo’s Lady Wave.
Tupelo, in this playoff tale, had all the makings of a Goliath – unbeaten at 22-0, including a 2-1 win this season against the Lady Bulldogs, and ranked No. 1 in the state.
“I told the girls at halftime that we had stunned Goliath,” Bramlett said. “ ‘Now’, I told them, ‘it’s time to go finish Goliath.’ ”
Sophomore defender Katelyn Watson did the honors. She hurled the stone in the 54th minute with a perfectly-placed header off a corner kick from Laura Quintero to give Brandon its eventual 1-0 victory.
“I thought when it was crossed in it was going too far,” Watson said. “I was still able to head it in. I was lucky.”
The shot rocketed in just under the crossbar and just over the outstretched arms of Lady Wave goalkeeper Kat Stratton, who had given up just six goals all season.
Brandon (20-2-3) then held on for the remainder of the ride, fending off numerous Lady Wave attacks on goal.
“They had one chance and they finished,” Tupelo coach Shelley Miller said. “We had a million and didn’t finish any of them.
“You lose every game when you do that.”
Tupelo’s offense took some time to get going in a scoreless first half. Sophomore forward Charde Hannah missed on shots in the 27th and 28th minute while Abby Phillips missed in the 30th minute.
The Lady Bulldogs kept Tupelo’s Stratton busy, firing five shots, three on goal.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Hannah, fighting back tears, when asked about her team’s missed offensive opportunities. “We gave it all we had.”
Hannah came into the championship match as the Lady Wave’s leading scorer with 22 goals.
Brandon keeper Katie Pearson, who registered all her team’s saves, is a teammate of Hannah’s on the Mississippi Fire select team.
“We know how she plays,” Pearson said. “I don’t think Tupelo was prepared for us … how we play defensively. We’ve worked a lot on defense since we played them.”
Tupelo’s Miller hinted that Tuesday’s state semifinals win, 1-0, over Madison Central may have affected her team’s performance. MC had eliminated Tupelo from the playoffs the four previous years.