By Gene Phelps
MOOREVILLE – A pumped-up Lakyn Cryder celebrated on the field Saturday.
Just minutes before, Cryder and Mooreville’s Lady Troopers defeated Choctaw Central 1-0 to advance to the MHSAA Class 1A-2A-3A state soccer semifinals for the first time in the program’s five-year history.
“This is absolutely amazing!” the senior midfielder screamed. “It’s overwhelming. We’ve never made it this far. Everybody played well today.
“I’m so excited!”
Mooreville (15-2-1) advanced to Tuesday’s state semifinals – also known as the North Mississippi finals – against South Pontotoc, a team they tied 0-0 earlier in the season in the Tupelo High Tournament.
The match will be played in Mooreville at a time to be determined. South Pontotoc played in last season’s state championship match and lost to Hattiesburg Sacred Heart.
Cryder was a key performer in the Lady Troopers’ win on Saturday against the visiting Lady Warriors (15-6).
First-year Mooreville coach Baden Honeycutt moved her from midfield to sweeper on defense after his team took a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
“Our strategy was to start her out front, but if we got 1-up to pull her back,” he said.
Cryder, whose defensive header in the mouth of the goal in the 58th minute stopped a Choctaw Central scoring attempt, wanted to help her team defensively.
“I’d rather play defense in games like this,” she said.
On the blocked shot attempt by the Warriors’ Robin Routh, Cryder and keeper Emmalee Blaylock covered the left and right corners of the goal.
“I was on the backside and dropped back,” Cryder said. “I stepped up and cleared it.”
Mooreville scored on a header by senior Madison Parham, who knocked in the shot off a crossing kick by Harley Patterson that bounced off the crossbar.
“We wanted to score early,” Parham said. “Then we wanted to stop them and not let them attack. When the clock hit five minutes it felt like forever was left. But I’d rather be a goal up than a goal down.”
The team’s third senior, midfielder Logan Abel, blocked a corner kick attempt in the mouth of the goal with a header in the 68th minute.