Saltillo facing defending 5A soccer champs

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

Saltillo reached its preseason goal in boys soccer – a 10-win regular season.
An 11th win this week would be a giant step for the program. It would have to come on the road against defending 5A state champion Starkville in the opening round of the state playoffs.
The match is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“The boys will have their hands full with Starkville,” Saltillo coach Eric Reynolds said. “Their defenders are equally talented. They can take possession of the ball and distribute it.”
Sam Houston led Saltillo (10-8) in scoring with 40 goals. The Tigers look to a freshman keeper, Drake McCarter.
“He has a chance to be a special player,” Reynolds said of McCarter.
Saltillo also received some help this season from the football team in linebacker Grant Garrison and wide receiver A.J. Rye.
“The football guys coming in gave us some athleticism and speed,” Reynolds noted.
The Lady Tigers (10-5-3), led by senior forward Alyssa Kelley and junior keeper Abby Westmoreland, host New Hope today in the first round.
Saltillo’s lineup features five players who have signed with Itawamba Community College.
“We started the season slow, but we’ve had a fast finish,” Reynolds said, noting that his team lost four of its matches early. “We’ve played well now that we’ve got everybody together.”
The Pontotoc Warriors (15-3-1), who host Senatobia in 4A opener at 6 p.m. today, went 6-0 in division play behind forward Rafeal Vidano, midfielder Fredy Gutierrez and sweeper Piercen Burchfield, an ICC signee.
“Those guys are the ring leaders, as they go, we go,” coach Michael Loden said.
Pontotoc owns a 2-1 win against Tupelo on its ledger. The Warriors lost to 6A power Madison Central, 4-0, but only trailed 1-0 with under 20 minutes to play.
“Beating Tupelo gave us that extra confidence we need to get us on the road,” Loden said. “We played well against Madison Central. We just lost our composure late after a penalty call.”
Tupelo girls (11-2-1) and boys (10-2-2) host Warren Central in a 6A doubleheader, starting at 4 p.m. today.

See today’s Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal for schedules.

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