Title fight: Lady Cougars face private school giant in final

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com South Pontotoc forward Judith Mills has scored 35 goals for the Lady Cougars this season.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
South Pontotoc forward Judith Mills has scored 35 goals for the Lady Cougars this season.

By Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

Horace Kitchens has seen his South Pontotoc soccer teams eliminated from the postseason seven times by private schools.

He doesn’t think the public school-private school playing field is level.

“I don’t think its fair to any public school when you play against any school that can recruit,” he said. “I have to play with who is in my school district.”

Despite his strong feelings, Kitchens has prepared his Lady Cougars (18-2-2) for a rematch against Sacred Heart (13-5-3) at 9:30 a.m. today in the MHSAA Class 1A/2A/3A state championship at Clinton High School.

The Hattiesburg-based Catholic school defeated South Pontotoc 4-1 in last season’s title game.

“They are as good or better than they were last year,” Kitchens said of the Crusaders. “Do I think my girls can compete, absolutely. We’re a little like David and Goliath. We’re taking a slingshot with a bunch of rocks.”

Two of South Pontotoc’s top rocks are forwards Tristan Kitchens (40 goals) and Judith Mills (35 goals).

“You concentrate your defense on Tristan and Judith will make you pay,” Kitchens said. “We have more depth at positions this year. We can do a lot more subbing than we did last year.”

South Pontotoc defeated Mooreville 6-2 on Wednesday on the road in the state semifinals.

The two teams played to a scoreless tie earlier in the season.

“Mooreville’s a good team. I’d like to take (Lakyn) Cryder and (Madison) Parham to Clinton with me. It would help even things out,” Kitchens said, then chuckled, referring to the Lady Troopers’ stars.

Sacred Heart is led by freshman Mary Margaret Parker and senior Blythe Griffin, who have combined to score 30-plus goals.

The Lady Crusaders beat favored Our Lady Academy 2-1 Wednesday in the South semifinals.

“No, our kids are excited about playing. We’re just a little country school, but I’m proud of our no-quit attitude,” Kitchens said.

gene.phelps@journalinc.com