Short-handed Lady Flashes play Forerunners to scoreless tie

Published 11:01 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The St. Aloysius Lady Flashes had to play ironwoman soccer on Tuesday, and did not break.

Reduced to 11 players because of commitments to other sports, St. Al played the Hattiesburg Forerunners to a scoreless tie at Farrell Stadium Balzli Field.

Seventh-grade goal keeper Sara Smith had 10 saves while being under steady fire the whole game.

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“We didn’t have the majority of our players because of other sports, so we had a lot of young people on the field,” St. Al senior defender Grace Windham said. “It was a good effort by everybody. They gave it their all. I’m proud of them all.”

The Mid-South Association of Independent Schools plays several girls sports — soccer, softball, cross country, swimming and volleyball — during the summer/fall season, and many players participate in more than one. St. Al only has 15 players on its soccer roster to begin with, and three were with the softball team for its game against Jackson Academy on Tuesday. Another, senior Kennedy May, was unable to play because of an injury.

St. Al coach Gio Baldizon and his Hattiesburg counterpart Chad Davis agreed to play with 10 players each rather than the usual 11 to even things out.

“It is rough, but the communication with the softball coach and the volleyball coach has been great,” Baldizon said. “I know the softball girls that we have are dedicated to softball, and we knew that coming in. We wish we would’ve had them the whole time, but we understand. It allows us to have a soccer program. And then their coach agreeing to play with 10, that’s sportsmanship.”

Hattiesburg controlled the game for the entire 80 minutes and sent more than a dozen shots toward the goal. Smith saved all 10 that made it on frame, including eight in the second half, to help the Lady Flashes earn a satisfying tie.

It was Smith’s fifth shutout of the season. St. Al only took three shots on goal.

“We had to stack some of our more experienced players in the back to play defense, and then we put who we could up top. It’s how the game moves and how you have to play,” Windham said. “So our goal going in here was to try and keep it 0-0, so we accomplished our goal.”

Although playing with a minimal roster was not optimal, Baldizon tried to look on the sunny side of a difficult situation. Some of his younger players got extra work, and he said it will help them down the road when they face this situation again.

The Lady Flashes are expected to be short-handed several more times because of schedule conflicts. They’ll be at full strength for Thursday’s game at East Rankin Academy, but without the three softball players on Sept. 11 when Park Place visits. Both are district games.

St. Al’s softball team also has a district game next Monday, on the road at Adams County Christian School.

“Now we take this same recipe and use it next week when we don’t have some of these girls. That’s why we play these games. It’s an opportunity to see what we can do,” Baldizon said. “We’re going to run into this position a couple of weeks from now. We’re not going to have some of these players. So you use this to build for that. You turn to that page when you come to that game and say this is what we did, this is what works.”

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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