Ridgeland edges Missy Gators
Published 9:37 am Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Seniors cherish every aspect of the final year in high school regardless of the pleasure or hurt it brings.
Vicksburg’s senior class lost its senior night game against Ridgeland in a shootout Tuesday night. The game went to penalty kicks tied 3-3, and Ridgeland shut out the Missy Gators in the shootout.
Jade Douglas scored two goals for Vicksburg — one off a penalty kick — and Mikayla Banks booted the game-tying goal in overtime.
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“That was a really tough game tonight. We had several goals that were called back that could’ve won the game for us,” Vicksburg coach Haley Ainsworth said. “We got unlucky, and unfortunately we ended up losing a tough, heartbreaking game.”
The Missy Gators will get their rematch against Ridgeland Monday on the road. They can win their third consecutive Division 4-5A championship with a victory. Only two teams are in the division, so both Vicksburg and Ridgeland are assured of a playoff berth no matter the outcome.
“We really need to work on our offense, getting motivated to play a more offensive game instead of sitting back and waiting for them to come,” Ainsworth said. “They’re going to be on the attack and come in guns blazing next week.”
There were two goals called back due to offside calls in the first half and in the last 30 seconds in the game.
The goal by Banks was bittersweet because the team feels it should’ve ended the game. Ainsworth said her team knew in their hearts they should’ve won in regulation.
“It put them in that mind that we have to get out here and do what we do to get that W,” Ainsworth said.
For senior Leiana Thornell and the rest of the Missy Gators seniors, the loss took away the special feel of a night in their honor.
Thornell said the team’s schedule wasn’t completed on time, which is how it ended up playing a division opponent on senior night. She’s been playing for the Missy Gators since her eighth-grade season and she said it “sucks to think this could’ve been my last night playing on the field” in a loss.
“We didn’t get to have a lot of easier games put on the schedule like we usually do,” Thornell said. “That kind of put a lot of pressure on us to win on our senior night.”
Jade Douglas, Destiny Allen, Delexus Smith and Torri Hayden are the other seniors on the team, with Thornell and Hayden being seasoned players.
Thornell said the improvement of the novice seniors showed they wanted to be on the team and put in the work.
“For them to be starting players and for Jade to score two goals — three that should’ve been counted a goal — for them to score, that just shows that they came out at the beginning of the year and just worked hard to prove they wanted to be a part of the team,” Thornell said.
(B) Ridgeland 6, Vicksburg 0
Vicksburg gave up 16 shots in the first half but only two goals, then Ridgeland pulled away in the second half to win big. Vicksburg only attempted one shot in the first half and four the entire game.
Vicksburg (1-8-3) has still clinched a playoff berth since it and Ridgeland are the only two teams in Division 4-5A.
Fatigue began to set in during the second half. Coach Kristen Williams said the Gators hadn’t had time to condition themselves for the game. Williams said Ridgeland was able to pass the ball against her team and communicated well.
“We were able to shut down the amount of shots but we weren’t able to get the ball on the other side of the field,” Williams said. “It was staying on our end with the goalie defending.”
The game against Ridgeland was Williams’ sixth as the new coach. She is working to get players out of their comfort zones by playing new positions, but they sometimes resort to playing spots they’re accustomed to.
“They’re not making good touches on the ball, or the one touch on the ball to shoot from even outside the box,” Williams said. “We only had four shots taken the whole game, so that was terrible.”