By Jonathan Wise
MOOREVILLE – South Pontotoc coach Horace Kitchens was more concerned about the Mooreville Lady Troopers going into Wednesday’s matchup for the 3A North Championship than he let on to his players. The two teams had previously played to a scoreless tie at the Tupelo Tournament in late November.
Mooreville gave his Lady Cougars a battle, but four late second-half goals allowed South Pontotoc (18-2-2) to advance into a second consecutive Class 3A state title game with a 6-2 win.
“I knew if anyone could knock us off it was them,” Kitchens said. “They are well-coached and fierce. It could have gone either way.
“No. 4 (Mooreville forward Lakyn Cryder) is a monster. We knew we had to cover her all night. I thought we did a good job of sticking to our game plan and staying spread out.”
The Lady Cougars jumped out to the early lead when Nevin Holley found the back of the net in the 33rd minute, with an assist from standout forward Tristan Kitchens. Judith Mills put South up 2-0 at halftime when she scored off of a pass from Allie Nielsen in the 38th minute.
The Lady Troopers (14-4-1) responded with goals from Lily Pittman in the 56th and 60th minutes to tie it at two, and all of the momentum seemed to be in their favor. Mills put one in for South less than two minutes later, however, to grab it right back.
Kassidy Young then drilled a goal from outside the box in the 64th minute, giving the Lady Cougars a two-goal cushion.
Another lengthy netter from Mattie Mills in the 67th minute essentially put the game out of reach, with sister Judith Mills adding the final goal, her third score of the game, with just under five minutes to play.
“I was proud of the way we fought; the girls showed a lot of heart, which is what we talked about at halftime,” said first-year Mooreville coach Baden Honeycutt. “You hate to lose, but these girls have really improved this year.”