By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The MHSAA state soccer playoffs just started Tuesday, but Northwest Rankin coach Montgomery Hinton is already expecting a Tupelo High-Madison Central girls semifinal matchup in Class 6A.
After Tuesday’s 6-0 first-round loss to Tupelo, his prediction may be right on.
“Madison and (Tupelo) will make for a good matchup for the North finals,” said Hinton, who saw his team give up four second-half goals to the home team.
The Lady Wave (18-2) advanced to play at Vicksburg in the quarterfinals set for Saturday, with a start time to be determined.
The Lady Wave lost to Madison Central in last year’s state quarterfinals, and THS head coach Shelley Miller said her team will not look past her quarterfinals opponent.
“We’ll never look past anything like that,” said Miller, who expects Vicksburg to be a good team with several good players. “I think we have the potential, if we play like we can, to make it pretty far this year.”
Erin Tucker’s first goal of the contest and Georgia Russell’s lone tally made it 2-0 Lady Wave by halftime of Tuesday’s match. The floodgates opened up for Tupelo in the second half as Tucker, Haley Walker, Sarah Kay Millican and Charde´ Hannah each found the net.
“They play an offsides trap that we’re not really used to playing against, so it took us a little while to adjust to that,” Miller said. “But once we adjusted to that, we had a lot of one-on-one opportunities. We probably should have finished several more of them.”
Carleigh Holley set up two of Tupelo’s goals, as the Lady Wave took advantage of its opponents’ goalkeeper being out of position on several scoring chances.
“When you leave the goal unattended you’re going to get hurt,” said Hinton, whose young team finished 9-10-4.
In order for Tupelo to extend its season, the Lady Wave players had to first shake off some nerves.
“We started off real jittery,” Miller said, “with a lot of younger players who haven’t been in this situation before and a lot of older players who have been in this situation before.”
It took her team until after halftime before it started to settle down and play solid soccer, she added.
“I think it’s just that unknown. That one-and-done type mentality that you come into that you’re not used to during the season,” said the Lady Wave coach, whose team often doesn’t play in elimination-type tournaments during the regular season. “It’s a big thing when they get into that mentality.”
(B) Madison Central 4, Tupelo 1
Normally, a team of Madison Central’s caliber isn’t a second-place team in its division and isn’t a team playing on the road for the first round of the playoffs.
As few could provide answers for how the MHSAA tiebreaker system works and how a one-loss Madison Central team lost out on the division title, neither could Tupelo provide answers on the field to how to stop the Jaguars from advancing.
The Jaguars rolled to a 4-1 win in a MHSAA Class 6A first-round playoff match at Tupelo High Tuesday night.
“Madison Central is not your typical first-round draw,” Golden Wave head coach Mark Enis said about the Jaguars, who lost the Division 3-6A title on a tiebreaker to Northwest Rankin, “but at the same time, they just dominated us tonight.”
Enis said his team didn’t have an answer for BJ Williams and Stephen Roberson, who each scored two goals.
“You gotta be able to shut down those guys,” he said. “We knew coming into the game that we were going to have to play sound defensively. I mean, we were going to have to play really solid and try to limit their chances to low-percentage shots.
“We just didn’t do that.”
Senior Patrick McPherson scored Tupelo’s only goal, in stoppage time of the second half.
Fellow seniors Keegan Todd, Matt White, Drew Watkins, Brett Pund, Jack McGee and Jonathan Doles played their final match for the Wave, who ended the season with a 8-7-5 mark.