By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Player of the year:
(B)John Mathis, Corinth
John Mathis wore a walking boot the day before his Corinth team played Bay St. Louis for the Class 4A state high school soccer champion-ship.
The question was: Would the Warriors’ star forward be able to play on his badly sprained ankle?
The answer from Mathis and his coach, Gregg Parker, was a resounding, “Yes!”
“The guy’s tough, he’ll play,” Parker said.
Mathis didn’t take his protective boot off until the morning of the game. “My ankle was wrapped up pretty solid before the match,” he said. “It felt awkward, but I played through it.”
Mathis scored his 33rd goal of the season in the early moments of the second half to tie the score at 1-1. In the final minute, he just missed connecting on a bicycle kick that would have tied the score and forced overtime.
Instead, the Warriors (17-3-2) lost the title, 2-1.
“The team we played was a great team,” Mathis said. “It wasn’t our day.”
However, it was Mathis’ season. He has been named the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year for the second time in three years. He won the honor as a sophomore.
He played through two injuries, including the nagging ankle injury that plagued him throughout the second half of the season. He also suffered a broken collar bone, for which he underwent surgery to repair. He missed only five games after the operation.
“It was pretty tough,” he said. “It was a little frustrating knowing I couldn’t get healthy and get out there and play.”
Ready to go
He returned to the lineup ahead of schedule after the shoulder surgery. The Warriors were playing and losing 2-1 to New Albany.
“I asked Coach Parker to let me go in,” he said. “We were down 2-1 and we went on to score three goals. I had one of them.
“But it wasn’t so much me. Everybody stepped it up that day. Coming back to win lifted everybody’s spirits.”
Corinth’s postseason run was unexpected, Mathis added.
“We lost some key players last year, but we had some young guys step up and do a great job,” he said.
Mathis, who wants to be a dentist, doesn’t plan to play college soccer, except maybe on the club level at Mississippi State.
“I’ve played a long time; it’s time to hang it up,” he said.