• 52°

Lady Arrows earn title berth in shootout

Patrick Parker helps console his sister, Vicksburg High’s Brandi Parker, after the Missy Gators lost in the South State championship game to Clinton on Tuesday. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[2.5.03]An eerie silence enveloped Vicksburg Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night.

No one really knew what to do.

For so many years, it was the Missy Gators and their supporters celebrating another trip to the state championship. But on this bitter cold night, it was Clinton charging after goalie Laura Leigh Reese after Vicksburg’s Katrina Shirley’s shootout kick skimmed off Reese’s fingers, hit the crossbar and bounded over the goal to give Clinton a 3-2 win after 110 minutes of on-field action and two sets of penalty shots.

“When she blocked it, I didn’t know we won,” said Clinton defender Lauren Ford, a sophomore in her first season as a starter. “Then everyone started running and it was like, we won.’ It’s amazing.”

After each team scored in four-of-five chances in the first shootout, Hollye Henderson scored to give Clinton a one-goal lead in the sudden death shootout setting up Shirley to attempt to tie the game again.

“It hasn’t set in yet, not at all,” said Reese, who made 12 saves in the win.

The Lady Arrows (18-5-2), who lost the previous two south state championships to Vicksburg, will meet Tupelo on Saturday morning on their home field.

For the Missy Gators, Tuesday’s loss marked the first time the team had ever lost when it reached the state semifinals. It was only the second playoff loss for Vicksburg in seven appearances.

After battling to a 1-1 tie in regulation, Clinton freshman Nikki Bush converted a penalty kick after she was taken down in the box 1 minute, 24 seconds into the first 10-minute overtime.

The call drew the ire of Vicksburg coach Kevin Manton, who said the game should have been over in regulation. On a breakaway with less than two minutes to play in the game, Brandi Parker had beaten the defender and appeared to be fouled inside the box, but there was no call, Manton said.

“It should have been over then. She got fouled twice from behind,” Manton said. “That should have been a red card and a penalty kick and we should have won 2-1.

“They are good, though. They got here and deserved to be here.”

The Missy Gators tied the game in the closing minutes of the second 10-minute overtime on a Holly Head goal on an assist from Parker.

“I thought, here we go again,'” Clinton coach Thomas Bobo said. “… We’re thankful that finally after three years we came out on top of one. It could have easily gone the other way and Vicksburg has nothing to be ashamed of. They played great.”

Clinton started the scoring less than five minutes into the game on a Bush goal for a 1-0 lead.

Parker tied the game midway through the second half on a breakaway goal that bounced off the goal post and into the net. The goal came after the Lady Arrows had two and three players shadowing the state’s leading scorer every time she touched the ball.

“She is certainly someone we paid attention to,” Bobo said. “She had a great game tonight like she usually does against us. We had a player in the back marking her and she did a great job.”

The only other time Vicksburg has not played for a state championship was in 2000 when the team missed the playoffs completely.

“It’s not a good sight and not a good place to be right now,” Manton said as he looked over hordes of teary-eyed players and parents. “What do I say to them? A great season, yeah, but we came up short of what we expected and what we wanted.”