Lady Vikes beat Missy Gators to move within one win of Region 2-6A soccer championship

Published 1:42 am Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Warren Central’s magic number is down to one.

Gloria Hall and Jordan Polk scored two goals apiece, and Allie Mason added another as Warren Central beat Vicksburg 5-0 Monday to close in on the MHSAA Region 2-6A girls’ soccer championship.

Warren Central (13-4, 6-0 Region 2-6A) can win its first region title since 2019 by winning one of its last two games. It goes on the road Thursday to play Columbus (3-11-1, 0-5) — which is in last place in the region and has been eliminated from playoff contention — and is home against Ridgeland (7-6-2, 4-2) on Jan. 30.

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“When I took over on day one I asked, ‘What are your goals?’ Pretty much all of these girls were on the team at that point and they said we want to be able to get back to winning district,” WC coach Jeremy Lawrence said. “It’s just been a progressive build and finally conditions are right, training is right, the players are right and everything is clicking together. You can’t be happier with where they are right now.”

Vicksburg (5-9, 2-5) will also be in the playoffs, but is locked in as the No. 4 seed from Region 2-6A. It has lost four of its last five games, and scored a total of two goals in the losses.

VHS keeper Lili Kistler made eight saves Monday.

“I’m still proud of them. Every game we’re getting better and better, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Vicksburg coach Maurice Gilliam said.

The Missy Gators played Warren Central tough in their first meeting in December, only losing 1-0. Monday’s second round, however, was never really in doubt once Warren Central broke the ice early in the first half.

After Vicksburg controlled the opening minutes and had a shot on goal early on, the Lady Vikes scored the game’s first goal in the 12th minute. Hall played a ball from midfield ahead to Brooke Steed on the right wing, and Steed fed a cross back to Mason in the box. Mason buried it in the net for a 1-0 lead.

Hall scored in the 28th minute, off an assist from Addi Keller, and got a second in the 35th minute following a corner kick to put the Lady Vikes ahead 3-0 at halftime.

“I thought the first 12 minutes was the worst 12 minutes of the game for us. We couldn’t connect,” Lawrence said. “Once we got that goal it released some pressure on them. They just realized, ‘We’re good. Settle down.’ And from there we were able to pass the ball around and move it real well.”

Warren Central defender Riley Martin, one of the team’s three seniors, agreed. The Lady Vikes wound up with a 17-3 advantage in shots and took six corner kicks in the game.

“It definitely helped the momentum, because last time we played them it was a 1-0 game and we just couldn’t find it,” Martin said of the early goal. “Over the season we’ve really worked a lot together and we’ve grown a lot together.”

Polk scored twice in the second half, in the 42nd and 54th minutes, as the Lady Vikes cruised home to their 13th consecutive win against their crosstown rival. Ten of those have been shutouts.

More than the long-term dominance against Vicksburg, however, Lawrence was pleased with his team’s recent success against everyone. They’ve won four in a row, and seven of their last eight, and are undefeated in 2024.

“We’ve been working on a specific way to play and haven’t been able to figure it out. The last three or four games it started to click. They’re finally seeing it,” Lawrence 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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