Richards overcomes bump to head to score game-winner for St. Al

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Brantlee Richards slid in the mud in front of the goal, frantically chasing a rebound as others did the same. All at the same time, her foot hit the ball, her body hit the ground, and an opponent’s knee hit her head.

“Anna Katherine (Beauchamp) kicked it and the goalie was coming at me. The goalie kneed me in the head and No. 23 stepped on my arm,” Richards said.

In the crash of bodies, however, Richards came out on top. She managed to tap the ball across the line for the go-ahead goal, and it stood up as St. Aloysius beat Park Place Christian Acaemy 2-1 on Monday for a key victory in the MAIS District 3-AAA girls soccer playoff race.

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Richards also scored St. Al’s other goal early in the second half. Her game-winner came in the 60th minute. Richards didn’t return to the game after her injury while scoring the second time, but coach Jessie Tate said it wasn’t for lack of trying.

“She wanted to come back in. She’s the toughest player I’ve ever coached,” Tate said. “She has a heart of gold. I give it all to her. She’s one of our captains and she definitely led us to a win this time.”

Belhaven signee Sybil Roberson scored late in the first half to give Park Place, the defending MAIS Class AAA champion, a 1-0 lead. After Richards’ pair of goals put St. Al in front, the Lady Crusaders swarmed the offensive end for the last 10 minutes of the game.

St. Al keeper Cameron Mathis and her defense stood tall, however. Mathis finished with a dozen saves and several defenders cleared loose balls from in front of the goal to preserve the victory.

“The defense was amazing. They have a very formidable striker (Roberson) and they shut her down. They were rotating together, working together, and it was like they were able to read each other’s minds,” Tate said.

The win put St. Al (6-3-1, 4-1 District 3-AAA) in control of its destiny for a playoff berth. It needs to beat Central Hinds on Wednesday to clinch a spot. The game is at 5 p.m. at Strickland Field in Bovina

If Central Hinds wins, it will create a three-way tie with it, St. Al and Park Place for two playoff spots. The tiebreaker is goal differential. It’s unclear how that might play out.

“I think we need to win Wednesday. I don’t want to bring it down to logistics,” Tate said.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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