Missy Gators earn win in playoff tuneup|Prep soccer

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 23, 2009

The Vicksburg Missy Gators had the look of a championship team on Thursday.

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They showed off a tough defense, a relentless offensive attack and, most importantly, poise in a tough situation.

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Vicksburg rallied for two goals in the last 13 minutes after falling behind midway through the second half, and earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Terry in a playoff tuneup for both teams. The win was the fifth in six games for the Missy Gators, and they figure to make it six of seven in tonight’s regular-season finale against Forest Hill.

Vicksburg (12-8) will open the Class 4A playoffs on Monday or Tuesday. Its opponent won’t be determined until the weekend, but the game will be at either Oxford, Center Hill or Hernando.

“That was big. They’re good. And we needed to be challenged,” Vicksburg coach Kevin Manton said. “It’s the time. It’s the time to get things right. We’ve played well and when you play well,  good things happen.”

Bad things seemed to happen for most of Thursday’s game.

The Missy Gators outplayed Terry (12-6) for most of the first half, but misfired on several scoring opportunities. Then, in the 20th minute of the second half, Terry’s Samantha Smith was knocked to the ground by a Vicksburg defender near the 40-yard line.

Smith got up, quickly lined up the free kick and shot a laser across the field to teammate Kelsey Edwards. Edwards got a step on her defender on the right wing and fired a shot into the back of the net to break a scoreless tie.

Vicksburg didn’t panic, though. It kept up the offensive pressure and finally broke through in the 27th minute. Diari Gilliam sent a cross through the goal box that Amelia Hyde headed into the net for the tying goal.

“I was just waiting on it. Right place, right time,” Hyde said. “It picked up our momentum.”

About seven minutes later, Gilliam set up another teammate. She got the ball to Becky Wilson between two defenders, Wilson got a step and beat Terry keeper Chasity Robertson to give VHS a 2-1 lead. The Missy Gators, who only allowed five shots on goal in the game, barely let Terry sniff another scoring opportunity the rest of the way.

(B) Terry 2, VHS 1

Terry rallied from an early 1-0 deficit, scoring just before halftime and then again with about 10 minutes remaining, to beat Vicksburg (7-10-3). Paul Velazquez scored the only goal for the Gators, who reached the Class 4A North State finals last season but will miss the postseason this year.

“It’s like a snakebitten season. But we played good. We didn’t play bad,” Vicksburg coach Jason Bennett said. “All year it’s been 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 games. We just can’t seem to win.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com.