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Six ranked teams highlight weekend classic

[12/10/04]The first month of Warren Central’s schedule has read like a who’s who of Mississippi soccer.

The Lady Vikes have taken the field against wave after wave of tough opponents, all in an effort to make themselves better and prepare for the Class 5A playoffs.

Or maybe just this weekend.

Six of the top 13 teams in the state will descend on Warren County this weekend for the two-day Warren Central-Vicksburg Invitational. The action begins at 5:30 tonight when No. 1 Madison Central faces No. 9 Brandon at Memorial Stadium, and No. 5 Madison-St. Joe plays Meridian at Warren Central.

The seventh-ranked Lady Vikes will host Hattiesburg and No. 12 Vicksburg hosts No. 13 Oak Grove at 7 p.m.

The championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

“It’s going to be a strong tournament,” WC coach Kristin Gough said. “The only way you get better is to play good teams. It doesn’t do any good to play teams that you’re just going to pound, because when it comes time for the playoffs you’re going to need to have those strong games on your schedule.”

Both WC and VHS have already faced some of the teams they’ll see this weekend, but it’s the Lady Vikes who have had the tougher schedule.

Six of WC’s first 12 games, including its last three, have been against teams in the top five. The Lady Vikes (8-3-1) started strong, winning eight of their first nine games, but have struggled over the last week. WC is 1-2 in its last three games and has not scored a goal in regulation. The lone win was a shootout victory over No. 4 Northwest Rankin.

“To have one or two games where you’re not quite on, that’s bound to happen. It’s just that really good teams take advantage of that. They expose that,” Gough said.

The tournament also gives the Lady Vikes a chance for payback. One of their losses came against Madison-St. Joe at a tournament last weekend, and Gough was itching for another shot at the Lady Bruins.

“One of the things we’re looking forward to is a rematch with St. Joe,” Gough said. “They beat us and we outshot them. They had one shot.”