By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo Lady Wave soccer coach Shelley Miller thought she had the team to make a run in the postseason.
She wasn’t thinking undefeated regular season.
She wasn’t thinking playing for a state champion-ship.
Miller’s team did both. They finished the regular season with a 19-0 record, then embarked on a postseason run that included a victory over playoff nemesis Madison Central and ended with a shocking 1-0 loss to underdog Brandon in the Class 6A state championship match.
“I knew we had a good group coming back, but I wasn’t expecting them to accomplish what they did,” said Miller, who has been named the Daily Journal’s 2012 Girls Coach of the Year in high school soccer. “We were young. We had some experienced juniors, but I thought we’d be a little inexperienced in big games.”
Tupelo, which finished 22-1 overall, came into the season without the services of its top player, midfielder Georgia Russell, who signed early with Ole Miss and opted to skip her senior season.
“Of course that was a big blow, but we had some people behind her step up and take her place,” Miller said.
Miller believes the state semifinals 1-0 road victory over Madison Central took an emotional toll on her squad.
“That took everything they had,” she said. “They had nothing left in their tanks for the finals. Even so, we had our opportunities against Brandon, we just didn’t finish.
“It was our year to beat Madison Central and Brandon’s year to win it all. Maybe next year, we’ll win it all.”