Flashes’ season ends with playoff loss to Starkville Academy

Published 11:22 pm Monday, February 14, 2022

By Cal Brown
Starkville Daily News

STARKVILLE — Having a strong defense is something the Starkville Academy Volunteers pride themselves in, and it was evident on Monday.

Jackson Walters scored two goals — one in each half — and Starkville Academy turned St. Aloysius away time and again to beat the Flashes 2-0 in the first round of the MAIS Division II boys soccer playoffs.

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“That’s something we take a lot of pride in,” Starkville coach John Morgan said. “When we beat Lamar 5-3 earlier this year, you could look at our bench and you would’ve thought we had lost. Our defenders were so upset at the fact we gave up that many goals when he hadn’t given up more than one to a Division II team all year. That was something they took as a wakeup call.”

St. Al (10-9) has forged an identity this season with big comebacks and overtime wins — it won four overtime games in district play — but couldn’t muster either in its playoff opener. Walters took a long pass and fired a shot inside the near post and past St. Al keeper Chase Tucker midway through the second half for his second goal, and the Flashes could not answer.

Tucker finished with 16 saves.

“Starkville did a good job,” St. Al coach Jay Madison said. “They were a good team and did a good job. Their seniors stepped up and took care of a tough opponent in the first round like they should.”

Despite the loss, Madison said he was more than pleased with how the season turned out. The Flashes only had three seniors on the roster — two were starters — and six of their starters on Monday are freshmen.

“I’m proud of my guys. This team having a chance to win district and making the playoffs is a huge accomplishment, just because we’re so young. You had my eight ninth-graders playing their eight seniors,” Madison said. “I’m super excited about what the future looks like. When this group is seniors, you might see 10 or 11 seniors out there playing.”

While he was Stravkille’s offensive leader in the win over St. Al, Walters credited his teammates for the outstanding defensive performance.

“Defense played a great game keeping them out and so did our goalie Charlie Cox,” Walters said. “Everybody’s got to play together if you want to win at all.”

Starkville advanced to face Bayou Academy in the second round on Thursday. Bayou beat Lamar School 2-0 in another first-round game on Monday.

“I thought we probably left some chances on the field that we should have converted on, but overall, I’m happy for our guys,” Morgan said. “We got the win, we’re moving on to the next round.”

Vicksburg Post sports editor Ernest Bowker contributed to this report