JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - Out of five South Mississippi teams, three came out victorious to claim 2020 MHSAA Soccer Championships in Jackson Saturday.
You might have heard this a time or two, but the St. Stanislaus (17-6-1) boys soccer team won another Class 5A state title, beating Newton County (23-2) 4-1. Early on, that didn’t seem like the case for the Rockachaws, as they were held scoreless in the first half of play with the Cougars leading 1-0.
In the second half, St. Stanislaus took over. The Rocks scored four times in the final 40 minutes of play, including two goals from junior midfielder, Grant Sides, to seal the victory. St. Stanislaus continue their dynasty, winning their fifth state title in the last seven seasons, their tenth in school history.
It’s been a long time coming for the Gulfport girls soccer team, who clinched their first state title since 2008, beating Clinton (17-3-2) 3-1 for the Class 6A state championship.
The key to victory was a fast start for the Lady Admirals. Freshman midfielder Mary Frances Symmes scored first, 13 minutes into the contest from 20 yards out into the upper left corner of the goal post. Two and a half minutes later, sophomore forward, Mallory Streetman, tacked on another to give Gulfport a 2-0 lead at halftime. Sophomore striker, Kate Smith, put the Admirals up 3-0 with a long range strike with 14 minutes left to play.
The Lady Arrows finally got on the board with 7:20 left, but the game was far out of reach. It was the only goal Gulfport had allowed in their four playoff games.
“The girls were making fun of me saying coach, I thought you taught English! I said yes, but sometimes, word don’t do it justice," Gulfport head coach Christopher Pryor told WLOX post game.
"Its not just a three month season anymore. The good teams particularly in the south, we start next week with postseason, offseason, summer, fitness, everything else. The girls bought in, they made commitments, and here we are state champions.”
“Im speechless. It’s definitely the best day of my life,” senior defender Bailey Smith said. “We’ve been wanting to do this since my eighth grade year, so it’s amazing. I’m speechless.”
The Lady Admirals finished their 2019-20 season unbeaten with a record of 21-0-4.
In order for Ocean Springs boys soccer to capture their second-ever state title, they had to go through a gauntlet that featured Brandon, Northwest Rankin, and Madison Central - all of which were among the Top-6 in the state and Top-30 teams nationally.
The Greyhounds (18-4-2) took the challenge head on, defeating Brandon 2-1 in overtime, handed Northwest Rankin their first loss of the year for a 2-1 victory, and beat Madison Central (20-1-2) - a team who’s beaten Ocean Springs the last three times the two have met for the Class 6A championship - 2-0 Saturday in Ridgeland.
“Just the overwhelming joy. We worked all this season, we worked last year, we worked for all of this," junior defender Jackson Rester told WLOX.
"Then to lose the last couple years and to finally get that win, its the best feeling.”
Despite being outshot 20-9, the Greyhounds received great performances from their upperclassmen. Junior and senior midfielders Adam Walker and Keeton Holifield scored both goals, while the Jaguars couldn’t get passed senior goalkeeper Gabriel Evans, who tallied 15 saves.
“We’ve been working hard since last year when we lost to Gulfport and this came deserved,” Evans said.
“We worked hard for this and we deserved it. I’m so excited. It’s been, what, 11, 9 years? It’s one for the memories.”
The same two schools have won the 6A title the last two years, with Gulfport boys and Ocean Springs girls winning it all in 2019.
South Mississippi came up short in Class 5A as East Central fell to Lafayette, 2-1, for the girls and Long Beach were defeated by Center Hill, 2-1, as well for the boys.