By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It was a decade ago the girls who attended Munford High School had to play on a combined Brighton/Munford team. Then 8-years ago, the Lady Cougars became its own program under the guidance of Kyle Selby.
In 2015 Dylan Burnett entered the picture as head coach. A Tipton County product himself, Burnett was familiar the history of program. He set his team’s goal at surpassing the Region 7-3A Semifinal for the first time in school history.
In order to do that in 2016, the Lady Cougars had to take down familiar foe the Brighton Lady Cardinals Thursday night in the District 13-3A Championship game. Munford reached that goal by winning the district title 7-0 on their home turf.
“It means a lot,” Burnett said. “This group of girls are just excellent. On the field, off the field, I’ve got a great group of girls. They really deserve this. They’ve busted their tails offseason, preseason, during the season. What Coach Louie (Hale) and I ask of them, they’ll do it.
“They’re willing to work for it and it shows,” he added. “A record breaking year and it’s not over yet. I want my girls to enjoy tonight. And they should. They’ve won every district game with a shutout. In district play, 38 goals scored and 0 against us. That’s unheard of.”
The victory earned the Lady Cougars the title, a home game in Regionals against the Arlington Lady Tigers and improved the best record in school history to 15-3-1.
Despite two early goals from Demis Brown and District 13-3A MVP Lyndsie Ralyea, Burnett said the pace of the game started off sluggish for his team.
“The first 15 minutes were a little rocky,” he acknowledged. “We were up 2-0, but there were some hiccups in the back. I think with just all the excitement of Senior Night there were some jitters. We settled in and then played our game. It was good to see our girls come out and play our game. They played at a high level.”
The next goal for the Lady Cougars came courtesy of District 13-3A Tournament MVP Matti Ping. Ahead 3-0, Ping provided the goal of the night to make the score 4-0.
When All-District player Kasey Moore floated a corner kick into the goalie box, Ping used her height and leaping ability to hit a header into the net.
Ralyea ended the first half with a goal to make the score 5-0.
In the second half, the All-Tournament duo of Brown and Ralyea capped off the night with goals. The defeat will send the Lady Cardinals on the road to play District 14-3A champions Bartlett Lady Panthers.
Munford will take on Arlington in Regionals. Back on Aug. 30, the Lady Tigers outlasted the Lady Cougars 2-0 in Arlington. The rematch will be played in Tipton County.
“We have a tough Arlington team coming in here on Tuesday,” Burnett said. “That’s the record-breaking thing that we want to do this year. No Munford boys’ or girls’ team has gotten past that Regional Semi. This is the team to do it.
“Bartlett upset Arlington in their district final,” he continued. “So we have Arlington coming here. Good news, it shows they’re beatable. But they’re also very talented. They have some good wins against tough teams.”
Burnett said Arlington should expect another tough game in the do-or-die Regional Semi.
“I know our girls are 10-times better than we played Arlington earlier in the season,” he concluded. “So it’s going to be a battle. If my girls bring the same intensity that we’ve had, it’s going to be a fun night both ways. It’s going to be a good battle.”
Both Region 7-3A Tournament games will take place Tuesday night with 6 p.m. starts.