Carolina Berryhill (4) tries to get control of the soccer ball for SHS Tuesday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Starkville Lady Yellowjackets are putting together a nice string of shutout victories.
After defeating division opponents Neshoba Central 5-0 and New Hope 3-0 to end the regular season, the Lady Jackets got the Class 5A playoffs off to a good start Tuesday night by blanking the Center Hill Lady Mustangs 3-0.
Starkville girls coach Anna Albritton likes the defensive effort her squad is given right now behind seniors Christine Mazzola and Jennifer Henderson.
"I'm going to hate to lose them, but I'm grooming about four more girls back there," Albritton said. "Girls like Alex Mazzola are all solid and I'm going to have them for a while. They are pretty solid defenders."
Carolina Berryhill, who scored all three goals for the Lady Jackets, was impressed the defense was able to record the third-straight shutout.
"Our defense is excellent and it's hard for anyone to get past them," Berryhill said. "It's great having them on the field."
Starkville improved its record to 11-4-1 and travel to face Oxford in the second round on Saturday. Oxford defeated Callaway 8-0 Tuesday night.
Albritton was glad to be moving on to the second round for the first time since her first season as coach in 2008, but believes the Lady Jackets must play better to advance.
"I wish we could have played better," Albritton said. "Not taking anything away from Center Hill, but we did not play connected as a team like we did Friday night (in the win against New Hope). I don't know why, but it may be tiredness. I saw some of them that were really tired. We're definitely going to have to pick up our game when we travel."
Berryhill scored the only goal of the first half at the 14:45 mark and the lead stood at halftime.
Albritton knew that another goal or two was needed to provide a comfort level for SHS.
"I was telling Jen (Henderson) while she was on the field that we need just one more for security," Albritton said.
Berryhill provided the cushion in the second half with two more goals 2 minutes apart from each other to put the Lady Jackets up 3-0. She scored with 19:25 remaining in the match and again at the 17:35 mark.
"I knew this was a big game for everybody," Berryhill said. "Coming out here everybody was nervous, especially me, and all of the seniors.
Nobody wanted this to be our last game. Coming out here, we said that we've got this and if we do like we did Friday, we can do this."
Berryhill said thoughts turned to the late Devin Mitchell during the match.
"That's who we do it for," Berryhill said. "After we got the first goal, we knew that wasn't enough and that teams can come back from that so I had this energy to know that I was able to do this."
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