Lady Flashes win soccer playoff opener, will host semifinal match Thursday at 4

Published 6:03 pm Wednesday, October 3, 2018

There was never a sense that St. Aloysius was in genuine trouble.

The Lady Flashes dominated Brookhaven Academy and controlled the action from the start in their MAIS Class AAA playoff game on Tuesday. All but a few loose balls and odd rushes kept play in Brookhaven’s end.

There was a sense, however, that maybe they weren’t putting it away like they should. Like they were opening the door for a fluke goal or rush to break the defense and give Brookhaven a chance to steal the win.

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In the end, those things did happen — but in St. Al’s favor.

Elizabeth Theriot scored the fluke goal when Brookhaven’s keeper dropped a save into her own net. Brantlee Richards converted on a breakaway. And the Lady Flashes got away with a 2-0 win in their playoff opener to earn another trip to the Class AAA semifinals.

“It’s amazing,” said Theriot, a freshman midfielder.” I didn’t play much my seventh-grade year, so it’s amazing to think that I helped win this game.”

St. Al (8-3-1) will host district rival Park Place Christian in the South State championship game Thursday at 4 p.m. at Balzli Field. It’s their third meeting this season — St. Al won the first two, including a 2-1 decision last week — and a rematch of last year’s semifinal game that Park Place won en route to the state title.

It’s also the third trip to the semifinals in four seasons for St. Al, which won the Class AAA title in 2015.

“My very first year coaching, I’m just thrilled. I’ve been handed a great group of girls. (Former coach Scott) Mathis trained them well and I’m super glad to be in this position,” St. Al coach Jessie Tate said. “We’re going to have to go in thinking it’s 0-0, like we’ve never played them before.”

St. Al dominated its first-round game against Brookhaven Academy (14-6-1). It outshot the Lady Cougars 10-0 and keeper Cameron Mathis only touched the ball a handful of times on plays outside the box, most likely while trying to cure a case of boredom.

Even so, the game was scoreless at halftime. St. Al generated tons of pressure, but some tentative play allowed Brookhaven to break up passes before they reached their targets. St. Al only had three shots in the first half.

“We just weren’t putting it in the right position for them to get the right opportunity to score. It’s all about ball placement,” Theriot said.

Finally, three minutes into the second half, Theriot broke the stalemate. She got a feed from Richards and took a shot that was stopped by keeper Olivia Lewis. Lewis, however, dropped the ball a second later and it took a sideways roll into the net before she could grab it.

The Lady Flashes celebrated as Lewis slammed the ball into the ground in frustration.

“I was so excited to get that goal. I’ve been wanting that for a while,” Theriot said. “It’s the best feeling in the world, thinking you’re not going to score and then she fumbles it.”

The goal lit a fire under the Lady Flashes. Their passes got a bit crisper and the offensive pressure returned. They only managed one more goal, Richards’ chip shot off a feed from Anna Katherine Beauchamp in the 58th minute, but never again seemed in danger of letting one mistake decide the outcome.

“The first half, we started with the same lineup we’ve been using. The second half, we pushed another girl up and spread out their defense in order to penetrate,” Tate said. “Everybody put in a great effort.”

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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