By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Charde Hannah’s left leg produced the right magic Tuesday night for Tupelo in the opening round of the MHSAA Class 6A state soccer playoffs.
The sophomore forward scored two left-footed goals in the second half to lead the No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Lady Wave to a 4-2 victory over visiting Northwest Rankin.
“I would have rather kicked with my right foot, but I had to hit it with my left foot,” Hannah said, then smiled. “I just went for it.”
The Lady Wave (20-0) hosts Clinton at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in a state quarterfinals match. Tupelo defeated the Arrows 2-1 during the regular season.
Hannah charged the goal from the left perimeter on both kicks and drilled the ball to the right corner of the net.
“Charde did a great job on both goals,” Tupelo coach Shelly Miller said. “I thought, ‘Oh, no, she’s going to kick with her left foot.’
“She proved me wrong. To take pressure kicks in a game like this shows how much she’s matured.”
Hannah’s first goal came in the 48th minute and gave the Lady Wave a 3-1 lead. Northwest Rankin (16-5-4) rallied to make it 3-2 when Alexa Johnson scored off her own missed penalty kick for her second goal.
Hannah’s second goal in the final five minutes clinched the win.
Another sophomore, Abby Banko, scored two first-half goals to give the Wave a 2-1 halftime lead.
“We’ve still got a long ways to go (in the playoffs), but this was the first step in going for the ring,” Banko said.
(B) Madison Central 2, Tupelo 0: Zach Bailey scored a goal in the 68th minute to lead the visiting Jaguars to a first-round win over the Wave (10-4-5).
Madison Central (13-5-4) scored its first goal on a header by Jaylor Brown in the opening two minutes.
“We had a lot of chances to score in the first half,” Tupelo coach Harris Faucette said. “We had a lot of balls in the box. We couldn’t put them away.”