SOCCER: Tupelo teams visit Jackson, aim for return trip

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo’s boys and girls teams made a trip last weekend to the soccer-strong Jackson area to play some “know-where-you-stand” matches.
The Golden Wave boys left with two ties: 1-1 against Northwest Rankin and 2-2 against Jackson Academy.
The Lady Wave defeated Clinton 1-0 and tied Northwest Rankin 1-1.
“I thought we played hard,” Lady Wave coach Shelley Miller said. “It’s good to go down there and play those people. You want to know where you stand.”
The high school soccer postseason begins Tuesday with its first of four rounds. The other dates are Jan. 26, Jan. 29 and the finals Feb. 1-2 at Clinton High School.
Both Tupelo teams are expected to qualify as Division 1-6A winners, which means they would host next week’s first-round matches – against Jackson-area teams.
headed south?
A first-round victory, however, would likely send the Lady Wave and Golden Wave south for quarterfinals and semifinals, if they qualify.
“If we win the division, we’re going to play Clinton, Warren Central or Vicksburg probably,” Wave coach Harris Faucette said. “(Going to Jackson) helped us get better. We’re trying to improve, be ready when the playoffs get going.”
The Lady Wave’s potential opponents, according to Miller, could be Madison Central, Warren Central, Clinton or DeSoto Central.
Tupelo’s girls lost in the state championship last season to Brandon while Tupelo’s boys fell in the opening round to Madison Central.
Miller’s Lady Wave is led by senior keeper Kat Stratton, the Daily Journal’s 2012 Player of the Year. She has posted nine shutouts for the 10-2-1 team.
“She’s a game-changer in the back,” Miller said. “Our girls trust her.”
Katie Taylor, a forward/midfielder, leads the team with 21 goals.
The Golden Wave boys, who are 9-2-2, have a solid keeper in John Nabors and strong defenders in Reed Bigham, Zach Ellis, Bryce Hunt and Drew Williams.
Offensively, Faucette looks to Kevin Armstrong, Alx Little, Marquise Rivera and Forrest Timmons.
“We’ve worked mainly on finishing,” the coach said. “We’ve got to put shots on frames, put some balls away.”
gene.phelps@journalinc.com