By Gene Phelps | NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo keeper Kat Stratton’s biggest problem in Saturday’s MHSAA Class 6A state quarterfinals soccer match against Clinton was staying focused in the goal.
She can thank her teammates for that.
The Lady Wave’s defense pitched a shutout in leading unbeaten THS to a 5-0 victory against the visiting Lady Arrows.
“Our defenders covered everybody,” Stratton said. “That was great defense by our team.”
Following the match, Tupelo coach Shelly Miller saluted her offense and defense for its effort.
“I told the girls it was an awesome offensive effort, but I applaud our defensive effort,” she said. “Clinton has some good forwards, but you wouldn’t have know it today.
“We shut them down.”
Tupelo (21-0) will play at rival Madison Central on Tuesday in the state semifinals. The winner will advance to Clinton High School on Saturday for the state championship match. Clinton (18-5-4) saw its season end.
Madison Central, who defeated DeSoto Central in its quarterfinal, has eliminated Tupelo from the postseason the last three years.
“Our team motto this year has been ‘No fear,”’ Miller said. “In the past I think we’ve been intimidated by (Madison Central).”
Tupelo defeated Madison Central 3-0 earlier this season, but Miller noted the Jaguars had some key players missing.
Charde Hannah scored the first of her two goals to give Tupelo a 1-0 lead in the match’s 25th minute. She got an assist from Smith Ann Chiles, who had two on the day.
The Lady Wave took a 2-0 lead early in the second half on a header by Abby Phillips off a corner kick by Chiles.
“At 1-0 you still have a feeling they might score,” Phillips said. “When you get that second goal it’s better.”
Bryson Rial scored on a penalty kick, Hannah tallied on a left-footed shot and Katie Taylor closed the scoring with a goal for the Wave.