Categorized | Sports

Season Four the Ages

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Munford senior Maggie Johnson kicks the ball from two Bartlett players during the Lady Cougars Regional semifinal game last week.

The moment the lights turned on over the Munford Stadium, history was made for the Lady Cougars.

The night of Oct. 23 marked the first time the four-year old Munford Soccer program hosted a Region 7-3A Tournament game. The Bartlett Lady Panthers played spoiler scoring three quick goals.

Despite the Lady Cougars matching Bartlett kick for kick in the second half, the Lady Panthers advanced with the 3-0 victory and ended the best season in Lady Cougar history.

Although the 2012 campaign came to an end with a 13-6-1 mark, Munford Head Coach Kyle Selby said finally winning the District 13-3A regular-season and tournament titles capped off a great career for his seniors Maggie Billings, Abby Drexler, Ruth Hull, Maggie Johnson and his daughter Alex Selby.

“It means a lot,” he said. “You’ve got seniors who have worked hard for four years. You’ve got girls who have played club. You’ve got girls who have played park and rec. You’ve got girls who have done all kinds of stuff. We started this thing off four years ago.

“This year there was a lot more dedication from some of the girls,” Coach Selby continued. “There was a lot more commitment. There was a lot more trust. And they worked extremely hard. We got to find a way to get over that hump.”

Bartlett made the hump too large to overcome last Tuesday with three quick goals.

“I’m very proud of the girls,” Lady Panther Head Coach Jessica Hester said. “They came out and did what they needed to do.

“The first (goal) was luck,” she acknowledged. “It was a PK. The other two were good shots and good shooting from my girls. They were moving the ball, passing it around, using it through the middle.”

Lady Panther Jade Peattie was entrusted with the pentalty kick after Munford was called for a hand ball in the box. The sophomore blasted the goal to give Bartlett a 1-0 lead. Moments later Lady Panther Sarah Hawkins scored to make the tally 2-0. Then a third sophomore capped off the scoring for Bartlett when Meagan Hoard netted a goal.

Munford had a few chances to chip into the deficit  with a PK opportunity of its own. But the ball flew over the crossbar. The Lady Panthers kept two to three defenders around Lady Cougar leading scorer Billings throughout the whole game.

Billings wasn’t able to add to her season total of 14 goals. Her teammate Megan Benoit got a few shots on goal but Bartlett’s keeper was there to snatch each one out of the air. The Lady Panthers advanced to the Regional championship game and earned a spot in Saturday’s Sectional round.

“The girls know what to do,” Hester said. “We’ve practiced this all year long. They know to come out and play their game to compete against good teams like that Thursday and Saturday. You must play from whistle to whistle. They can’t give them five minutes of heads down and now playing their game. If they come out and play our game from whistle to whistle, it will be a good match.”

Selby said his girls concluded 2012 giving a great effort in the second half.

“We hung with them the second half,” he said. “But the issue is if you’ve got a lot of kids who haven’t played club ball and you go in and change a formation, they tend to get a little lost. With a team that passes the ball like Bartlett does, we tried to change the formation.

“We did it against them the first time we played them and it was 0-0 the first 60 minutes,” Selby added. “We changed it up a little bit today and they got three goals early.”

The only coach in Munford Lady Cougar history said the 2012 team maintain the standard of hard work on and off the field.

“The girls have worked hard in the classroom,” he said. “They’re holding a 3.45 GPA this first nine weeks. There’s a lot more to it than just soccer games. But you’ve got some seniors there with one already verbally commitmented to play college soccer and another one thinking about playing college soccer being recruited.”

Alex Selby has been the goalie for the Lady Cougars from day one. She now looks forward to competing for the job at Mississippi College.

Selby has been a part of three district runner up teams and the championship team. Her father said all the senior gave a lot to the program and will be hard to replace.

“You’re about to lose five solid players,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to replace them. You’ve got five seniors sitting right there and they started almost every game since this thing started. You can’t turn around and just replace that real quick.

“But as long as I’m coaching when we step on the field the girls will give everything they’ve got,” Selby concluded.

The Lady Panthers took on the Arlington Lady Tigers Thursday for the Region 7-3A title. Arlington won the game and went on to win Saturday to earn a spot in this week’s State Tournament.

The Lady Panthers traveled Saturday for their Sub-State game at Houston. And the Lady Mustangs were victorious earning a spot at State.

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