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Missy Gators, Gators bow out of soccer playoffs

Even though their offense wasn’t clicking, for 60 minutes the Vicksburg Missy Gators stayed within striking distance of Grenada. A solid defensive effort kept the score low and close, and created hope that one fortuitous bounce would change the complexion of the game.

It did, but not in the way the Missy Gators wanted.

Allison Escobedo won a loose ball in the box from Vicksburg keeper Rosemarie Thuha and blasted it into the net in the 62nd minute. It turned out to be the first of three goals for Grenada in the last 20 minutes, a surge that propelled it to a 4-0 victory in the first round of the MHSAA Class 5A girls soccer playoffs on Tuesday.

“I told the girls coming in that you’re going to have to work the ball, and that’s what we did in the second half,” Grenada coach Chris Miller said. “We started working the ball more and playing possession, and I think we wore them down. We kept pushing and pushing and finally got some goals to go in.”

Escobedo scored three goals and Mak Kendall one for Grenada (12-7), which advanced to play either Saltillo or Ridgeland in the second round later this week.

Despite the loss, Vicksburg (10-4-1) finished a tumultuous season on an upbeat note. It won the Region 4-5A championship and earned a measure of respect after hanging with Grenada for most of the game.

“We went to the same round last year and got beat (7-0) by Neshoba, so what we did today wasn’t too bad. They’ve shown growth, they’ve shown progress, and they did what we asked them to do,” Vicksburg coach Samantha Bailey said. “They always built each other up. They’re good about covering where they need to. They worked really well overlapping with each other and keeping that communication open so that they know where to be on the field.”

Escobedo dribbled past a defender and scooted a grounder past Thuha in the 28th minute for the game’s first goal, but there was precious little offense generated by either team for the first hour. Grenada only took five shots and Vicksburg one in the first half.

Finally, Grenada’s superior depth started to wear down the Missy Gators. The Chargers were able to sustain more and more pressure on the offensive end as the second half unfolded, while Vicksburg had just one or two isolated scoring chances.

“Our midfield broke down a little bit and we couldn’t get the ball up the field. They were keeping that midfield pretty locked down so we couldn’t turn and go with the ball,” Bailey said.

Just after a VHS corner kick failed to generate a shot in the 60th minute, Escobedo stuck a dagger into the Missy Gators. Thuha came out to about the 10-yard line to challenge a scoring opportunity, but Escobedo was able to keep control of the ball and ripped a shot into the middle of the open net to give Grenada a 2-0 lead.

Escobedo scored again in the 67th minute, on a shot from the 6-yard line, and Kendall finished things off with another goal from inside the box in the 77th minute.

“I think after that second goal everybody got down. We got tired. We don’t have the depth that they have. We have two girls on the bench. I think they just were tired. (Grenada) just ran them,” Bailey said.

New Hope 11, Vicksburg 0
Region 1-5A champion New Hope rolled past Vicksburg High in the first round of the MHSAA Class 5A boys’ soccer playoffs on Tuesday.

Although the season ended with a thud, Vicksburg coach Chris Lacey said it was an overall success. The Gators (10-6-1) finished with a winning record and reached the playoffs after an absence of several years.

“We made strides in the right direction as far as getting the program back to competing at a high level,” Lacey said. “We made the playoffs and came a game away from being district champs, and that’s what you want — just a chance to put your name in the hat.”

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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