Lady Vikes’ run ends with semifinal loss to Saltillo

Published 5:54 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Warren Central’s fantastic season did not have a happy ending.

Saltillo scored its first goal less than two minutes into the game, put seven in the net in the first half, and defeated Warren Central 7-0 in the MHSAA Class 6A girls’ soccer North State championship game on Wednesday.

“We warmed up well, everything looked good, we were in high spirits,” Warren Central coach Jeremy Lawrence said. “We were OK until after the second goal, and then a couple different combinations of things caused our minds to slip.”

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Saltillo (23-1) advanced to the state championship game for the second year in a row and will play George County Saturday at 4 p.m. at Germantown High School in Gluckstadt. Saltillo won the Class 5A championship in 2023.

Warren Central (17-6) reached the state semifinals for the first time since the MHSAA sanctioned girls soccer as a varsity sport in the mid-1990s. Lawrence tried not to let the way the season ended diminish what his team accomplished by getting there.

“That’s obviously the big takeaway. It’s been a great season,” Lawrence said. “We’re losing two great seniors and I hate it for them. Next year we’ll have a bigger senior class, and down the line there are some good classes coming up. The future is going to get brighter and brighter.”

Saltillo has not lost since November, has allowed one goal in its last 19 games, and tore right through the Lady Vikes on Wednesday.

A corner kick in the second minute led to two shots, both of which were saved by WC keeper Hayleigh Simmons. Avery Holly put in a rebound of the second one, however, for a quick 1-0 lead that sent the Tigers off and running.

In the 14th minute, Holly played a ball ahead to Riley Dickens, who split the defense and scored on a breakaway. A nearly identical play led to a third goal by Olivia Miller in the 24th minute.

Dickens and Emma Bailey both scored off of corner kicks, and Dickens and Caroline Hamm added goals in the waning moments of the first half for a 7-0 lead.

Dickens finished with three goals, while Hamm and Miller each had a goal and an assist.

“They obviously had a good game plan against us, but then a bunch of little things happened. We had some players that were sick, or weren’t 100 percent, and you can’t make the changes you want to in the course of the game,” Lawrence said.

The Lady Vikes had a couple of chances to score. Saltillo keeper Lynley McCarley made an easy save off a free kick in the 31st minute, and in the final seconds of the first half she snagged another long shot with an excellent diving save.

That was about the extent of Warren Central’s highlights, however. The teams played 10 minutes into the second half, long enough to reach the required time for the mercy rule to kick in, and the referee blew the whistle to end the game.

“We did have a couple of looks on goal and it wasn’t like we weren’t able to progress the ball. They just ate our defense alive,” Lawrence said. “I told them at halftime not to lay down and play hard, and they came out that last 10 minutes and did that.”

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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