Ex-rivals join forces as all-stars|[6/187/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 20, 2005

For years, Emily Coker and Miranda Hunt have been rivals on the soccer pitch. Starting today, they’ll have to get used to the idea of being teammates.

Coker, a former Warren Central goal keeper, and Hunt, a midfielder for Vicksburg High, will play for the South team in the Mississippi Association of Coaches soccer all-star game at Hinds Community College in Raymond.

The game starts at 1 p.m. at Joe Renfroe Stadium, and admission is $5.

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The boys’ all-star game will follow at 3 p.m. Vicksburg High’s Matt Minyard was selected to play in the boys’ game, but did not report on Thursday.

This figures to be the first of many games together for Coker and Hunt. They’ve both signed to play for Hinds, and will be teammates for the next two years. Several of their opponents on the North team have also signed with Hinds, giving today’s all-star game the feel of an intrasquad scrimmage.

“Some of the girls we’re playing with and against are going to Hinds next year,” Coker said. “Right now they’re our rivals, so the goal is to beat them. Then we can be friends after the game.”

Coker enjoyed a solid career at Warren Central, and was selected the Vicksburg Post’s girls’ Player of the Year this season. Fifteen of her 16 wins came by way of shutout, helping the Lady Vikes reach the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.

As one of two keepers on the South roster, she figures to play a half in the all-star game. She said facing the talented North team would be a challenge. The North leads the series 6-2-1, with both South wins coming in the last three years.

The North won 1-0 last year, halting a two-game South winning streak.

“The north usually dominates in the (high school) season. Madison Central won it all, and they’re in the north,” Coker said. “In the past, the North has always come out and won. We’re going to change that, hopefully.”

Adjusting to new teammates will also be a challenge for Coker and Hunt.

The teams reported on Thursday and have had just three practices to prepare for the game.

The talent of the all-stars – as well as their familiarity with each other through select and recreational teams – should cancel out the lack of preparation, though.

“It’s not that hard when everybody knows what they’re doing,” said Hunt, who had seven goals and four assists for Vicksburg in 2004-05. “I played with them in select, so it’s not that bad.”

Hunt should get more playing time than expected today. Two South players did not report for the game, leaving it with only 14 players.

That could translate into more frequent substitutions, and a lot more time on the field for the former Missy Gator.

“I think it’ll be fun. I’ll get to play more,” Hunt said. “But we will get tired in the heat.”