By Gene Phelps
MOOREVILLE – Soccer wasn’t new to Madison Parham when Mooreville High School started its program five years ago.
Parham, a senior midfielder this season for the Lady Troopers, has played the sport since she was 4 years old.
“We had some players who didn’t know how to kick a soccer ball,” she said, looking back. “Now, they’re dribbling down the field, making passes.
“We’ve all grown as players. Some have gotten better every year.”
Mooreville (11-3-1), directed by first-year coach Baden Honeycutt, is expected to clinch the Division 1-1/2/3A championship tonight and begin its postseason journey next week.
The Lady Troopers have never made it past the opening round of the state playoffs in three previous seasons.
“We’ve been in a first-round slump,” Parham said, then smiled. “I have a good feeling about this team.”
Lakyn Cryder, a senior midfielder and the team’s leading scorer with 20 goals, believes the postseason losing streak ends this year.
“You can see how we’ve improved each year,” she said. “We’ve come a long way.”
Honeycutt played select soccer in Tupelo, but didn’t play in high school, instead playing for the Golden Wave basketball team.
“I knew something about soccer,” he said. “They were looking for a coach. I’m really excited about coaching (soccer). It’s been fun and it’s been cold!
“I’ve got a great group of kids (girls and boys). I’ve learned a lot.”
Parham, Cryder and midfielder Logan Abel are the team’s senior tri-captains. Honeycutt has also been pleased with the play of his seven juniors, especially sweeper Alyssa Stanford and stopper Alex McClarty.
“Those two are the leaders on a defense that has given up 11 goals this season,” he said. “We have been very sound defensively.”
Emmalee Blaylock, a seventh grader is the Troopers’ goalkeeper.
Mooreville’s top win this season was a 3-2 overtime decision against 5A Saltillo.
“I knew in the preseason we’d be good,” Honeycutt said. “I’ve been impressed with the way the girls have played.”
Parham is glad Honeycutt wanted to coach the program. “I thought we had a good team last year,” she said, “but I’ve seen the program grow this season.”