By Gene Phelps
PONTOTOC – One sure way to beat Pontotoc is to stop high-scoring forward Rafael Vidana.
Tupelo did just that Tuesday and defeated the defending Class 4A state champions 5-0 in high school soccer.
The Golden Wave, with outside back Zach Ellis marking Vidana, kept the Warriors off the scoreboard. Ellis had help from fellow defenders – Sam Dexter, Sarbjot Malli, Bryce Hunt and keeper Keaton Halbert.
“He has a couple of moves, but he has to get the ball on his foot,” Ellis said of Vidana. “You have to stay back and not bite … wait on another defender.”
Malli scored two goals, one on a header, to give the Golden Wave a 2-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes. Hunt, Logan Little and Hunter Johnson scored the team’s other three goals. Little and Chase Cernigliaro had two assists each and Drew White one.
“I thought we did a good job controlling and limiting (Pontotoc’s) touches,” Tupelo coach Harris Faucette said. “We did a good job not letting them turn on goal.”
(G) Tupelo 3, Pontotoc 0: Pontotoc coach McKinley Holland called it the “Charde Show,” then laughed, but he was correct.
Tupelo senior forward Charde Hannah scored three goals, one on a 30-yard shot in the second half to pace the Lady Wave.
“I was super lucky on that one,” Hannah said. “We struggled at times to keep the ball, but we’re learning how to play with each other.”
She gave Tupelo a 2-0 lead in the first half with two goals, one off an assist by freshman Georgia Kate Crawford.
Hannah “is outstanding,” said Holland, Pontotoc’s first-year coach. “They have a great soccer team. I was also pleased with the way we played.”
Added Tupelo first-year coach Hannah Kimbrough, “Charde’s aggressive and has a nose for the goal.”
Pontotoc was limited to three shots on goal by the Wave defense.
“We’re young and learning with each game,” said Kimbrough, who had four starters sidelined for various reasons. “We didn’t play our best game. Give Pontotoc some credit. They played a tough game.”