The Starkville High School girls' soccer team was able to get a much needed Class 5A, Region 3, District 4 victory Friday on senior night.
The Lady Yellowjackets shut out the New Hope Lady Trojans 3-0 to win and take first place in the district.
The Lady Trojans won the first match up between the two teams on Wednesday 2-1 at home. SHS head coach Anna Albritton did not change her gameplan much, but did tweak it a little bit.
"We had some breakdowns on defense," Albritton said of the first match against New Hope. "We took the game film and studied. We sat down and talked about it. Some of the things we did were in the heat of the moment and we were just not focused. We left the middle open, and we didn't give them the middle tonight."
The motivation for Albritton's team may be for a fallen classmate.
Devin Mitchell, who played football for the Jackets, was shot and killed earlier this month.
"Before each game, we go over there to No. 32 and we talk about Devin Mitchell and what he did on this field for football," Albritton said. "That was sort of another catalyst that got them going. They wanted to do it for Devin and his memory."
Winning first place in the division is a big deal, but it was sweeter for the Lady Jackets on senior night.
"I told the girls before the game that this meant a lot to me to get a win and I really wanted them to push hard because we had trouble against New Hope the other night," senior Jennifer Henderson said. "I knew we could pull it out. The fact that my teammates worked so hard to get this for the seniors means a lot to me because this is one of the last times I will get to play with them and play on this field."
It was especially special for Albritton, as her daughter was one of the seniors.
"It was special," Albritton said. "It was especially special for me because one of them was my daughter (Ashley Albritton) who has played since 4. Christine (Mazzola) and Jen (Henderson) I have coached since they were 8. Resheada (Doss) is the newcomer. She has been out here for us for two years. These girls have been dedicated, they have been leaders and they are here when they are supposed to be here."
SHS got on the board with 27:25 to go in the first half when Noa Hardin scored. She finished up the game with a goal in the second half.
"She is that little fireball out there," Albritton said. "She is a good little catalyst. She runs herself ragged because she is everywhere. We depend on her a lot, but our team is not based on one player. It is a team effort all the way around."
Carolina Berryhill got into the scoring column when she bounced it off the iron and in at the 24:30 mark in the first half.
"I had a really good pass from my teammates and I thought we already had one goal so we need to get another to get the score up," Berryhill said. "I wasn't expecting it to go in but it did."
The Lady Jackets finished the regular season with a 10-4-1 mark and 3-1 in district. SHS will host the first round of the playoffs on Tuesday.
New Hope 0
The Yellowjackets did not have much to play for as they had already clinched the No. 1 spot in their division.
SHS set the tone early as it scored three goals in the first half. Junior Taylor Wise scored first for the Jackets with 32:50 remaining in the first half.
"That's what they wanted to do," SHS head coach Brian Bennett said of jumping out to an early lead. "They wanted to set it early. This is our third game in three days so they wanted to get some goals in early so we could get a lot of them out and rested."
Seniors Price Day and Kase Kingery scored with 17:50 and 14:50 left in the first frame, respectively, to close out the first-half scoring.
Just as the girls were excited to get a victory on senior night so were the boys.
"It is big," Bennett said. "It's fun when the guys can come out here. We got to start all the seniors so it was fun. They played pretty well. The seniors were really pumped up tonight and you could tell. Some of them have been kind of playing down but they were pumped up tonight."
One senior showed why he has lettered for the Yellowjackets for five years.
Addison Watson started the game as the goal keeper and was pulled in the second half. He then came out and scored at the 12:40 mark in the second half.
"It was good to come out here and get the win for the other seven guys out here that are seniors," Watson said. "It was really beneficial for us to go out here and sweep this game. I'm actually kind of surprised at the turnout we had. I'm really proud of our school and our parents getting behind us. It was a really good feeling being able to come out here knowing that this could be one of the last games we are going to play on this field for this school, so it's just a great experience overall."
Bennett had threw around the idea of letting most of his players rest, but with the lack of play this year due to the weather, he decided against it.
Sophomore Justin Gordon scored the other SHS goal early in the second half.
The Jackets ended the regular season with a 10-3 overall record and a 4-0 mark in district play. The will also host the first round of the playoffs also on Tuesday.