LADY WAVE SUFFERS FIRST LOSS IN PLAYOFF SHOOTOUT
By Parrish Alford
The rules say only one team can advance. This time it’s Vicksburg.
Vicksburg’s Lady Gators were still standing when Tuesday’s marathon soccer playoff game ended more than 2 1/2 hours after it began. The visitors won 5-4 in a shootout. The game was tied 1-1 after regulation, a pair of 10-minute overtimes and two more five-minute sudden death periods.
“It was a great soccer game,” said Tupelo coach Buddy Prince, whose Lady Wave lost for the first time and ended its season at 13-1. “I am disappointed that we did not go on, but I’m not disappointed in these girls. Sometimes the luck is not with you.”
The 1996 season was a turnaround of 10 games in the win column for the Lady Wave, which finished 3-8 last year. The Lady Gators move on to the semifinals with a 12-4 record.
Tuesday’s game was decided when Vicksburg’s Erin Loper beat Tupelo goalkeeper HeatherLea Wilemon to Wilemon’s right. Loper was the final shooter in a shootout that went six deep. Every other Vicksburg score in the shootout went to Wilemon’s left.
Wilemon said the move right did not catch her off guard.
“Not really. I just wasn’t up on it good,” she said.
Earlier in the game Wilemon, a freshman, had allowed her first goal of the season. Vicksburg’s Kristen Chapman, one of the top 20 players in the South according to Prince, faced Wilemon one-on-one and came away with the score. The goal came with 37 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the first half.
Prince said the early score did not take his team out of its game.
“They know what it’s like to be behind. They’ve been my players for too long now,” he said. “We just bit on a move (by Chapman). When we saw what she could do, we shut her down the rest of the night.”
But the Lady Wave was being shut down as well. Tupelo trailed 1-0 at halftime, but tied the game early in the second when Christy Voyles kicked in a rebound with 35:05 left in the game.
Tupelo held the advantage in the shootout until Cheryl Griffith, Vicksburg’s fifth shooter, scored in the upper left corner of the goal to make the score 4-4. Then the Lady Gators held, setting the stage for Loper.
“Vicksburg is the hottest team in the state right now,” Prince said. “We played a very good team to a tie and lost in one of those shootouts. Two times this year we’ve been lucky (in shootouts). This time we were unlucky.”