TUPELO SHUTS OUT SOUTHAVEN 5-0
By Parrish Alford
It was the best, and it was the worst. In the end it was good enough.
The Tupelo Golden Wave beat Southaven 5-0 Saturday, its third win over the Chargers this season. The win puts Tupelo in the second round of the soccer playoffs Tuesday evening at Pearl.
“At times we played our best soccer of the season. There were times when we had the best passing and movement we’ve had all year,” Tupelo coach Ryan Webb said. “And at times you could tell we had not played a game in two weeks.”
Ultimately the good times outweighed the bad.
The Wave (16-3) held a 1-0 lead at halftime, then erupted for four goals in the second half. Webb said the Wave used more of the field in the second half, helping to open up a crowded middle.
“They were really crowding the middle,” he said. “At halftime we said we wanted to start playing a longer ball. When we knocked it to their sweepers (in the first half) they would push up. We knew if we could put some pressure on their fullbacks we’d get some chances.”
The strategy worked, as the Wave scored three goals in roughly a 10-minute span. Richard Swiney’s goal in traffic gave Tupelo a 2-0 lead with 30 minutes, 36 seconds remaining. It was 3-0 when Clay Roper scooted the ball by Southaven goalkeeper Patrick Stone at the 26:10 mark.
Rob Braswell scored his second goal of the game off an assist from Scott Weatherly with 20:11 left, and it was 4-0 Tupelo. Tupelo’s Clay Scruggs ended the scoring with 3:51 to play.
“When you go to the goal as hard as we did, you’re going to get some shots,” Webb said. “We were able to take advantage of that.”
Southaven ended its season 9-4 with three losses to Tupelo. The Wave scored a shutout each time, winning 2-0 and 4-0 in the first two meetings.
The Chargers’ best chance to score Saturday came at the 13:57 mark of the second half, but Daniel Moore’s shot and a rebound shot were blocked by Tupelo goalkeeper Matthew Leathers.
Moore also had a shot go out just above the goal at the 28:09 mark before things got out of hand.
Braswell put the Wave up 1-0 with a header off a corner kick from Curt Cockrell with 9:01 left in the first half.
The Wave missed two other first-half opportunities. Tupelo had a chance to break the scoring ice early, but Southaven’s Stone jumped and grabbed Roper’s shot with both hands at the 29:56 mark. Then the Wave had a goal by Charles Montgomery negated by an off-sides call at the 27:42 mark.
“Southaven played a fine game,” Webb said. “They have really improved defensively. They used the time off wisely.”