Lady Mavericks end successful season in playoffs

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

After battling in the summer heat through 80 minutes of regular game play, 20 minutes of overtime, and 10 minutes of sudden death overtime in a tied game of 1-1, the Manchester Academy Girls soccer team lost to Indianola Academy who advanced on 4-3 penalty kicks.  The sun set on the Lady Mavericks that day, who fought a hard battle against the Lady Colonels in the State semifinals. 

Coach Jacob Iles said that this game was possibly the farthest the Manchester Girls soccer program has gone in the last several years. 

"I know that we have made it to the playoffs in the past, but I am not sure if the team has made it as far as the second round before," he said.

Iles said that the game began with some favorable windy weather on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 3 at Indianola. 

"With the wind at our backs were able to keep the ball on their end for most of the first half," he said. "Ivy Sowell scored our first goal from almost midfield with a really pretty high-arching shot that bounced.  The Indianola goalkeeper hesitated and the ball went in right over her head, and that gave us an early 1-0 lead in the game."

Iles said that the Lady Mavericks played excellent defense and maintained their lead until the end of the 3rd quarter, when an accidental handball on Manchester awarded a penalty kick to the Lady Colonels.

"They shot and scored on that penalty kick which tied up the game," he said. "Both teams had a lot of chances, but for the rest of regulation and overtime play, no one was able to score a goal, which immediately sent us into penalty kicks."

The Manchester girls actually had to play in two rounds of penalty kicks in near darkness as dusk set in, but they were determined to play until the game was over.

In the first set of penalty kicks, five Lady Mavericks were chosen to kick, but the score remained tied 2-2 which each team scored at least two goals out of the five.

This launched both teams into sudden death penalty kicks, and allowed five more players to be chosen to kick for each team.

This time however, the Lady Mavericks fell short, when Indianola bested them on the 10th and final kick, winning the game 4-3.

"It went to the 10th kicker on the 10th penalty kick," Iles said. "We kicked second, so we knew what we had to do.  On that last two kicks, they made it, and we missed when our ball hit the crossbar and bounced out.  The other team rushed the field and the game was over."

This game marked the end of the 2019 Lady Maverick soccer season, but showed just how much determination the Manchester girls have. 

Their end of season record, 4-8-1, consisted of three losses in very close games to Indianola, who eventually became the state champion.  Two losses were due to tied games that led to penalty shootouts, three others were against Division 2 schools such as Central Hinds and East Rankin, and the only tied game this season was against Washington School.

"We won three more games this year than we did last year, and one of those was a play-off game," Iles said. "We are on the rise and we are getting better.  We have set the expectation now that we have made it to the semi finals, so next year will be the year that we make a run for the state championship."

Iles added that a run for the championship could be a reality for the 10 girls who will move up as seniors next year, many of whom may even have a shot at making the All Star team. 

"I have also heard through the grapevine that we have some other junior high and high school kids who are interested in playing next year," he said. "If that happens we could be looking at a team of up to 30 girls, and possibly even be able to start a JV team to train up a lot of these younger girls."

The Lady Mavericks will lose their only senior this year, Monica Morrison, who Iles said has been a true leader on the field.

"Monica has been playing since the 7th grade and has been our center midfielder for most of the season," he said. "She is kind of our rock in the middle and we will definitely miss her."

Iles said that this was the first year for many of his girls to play soccer for Manchester, including Presley Trammell, Lanie Potter, Annsley Smith, Karley Martin, Anna Riley Kelly, Mary Michael Druey, and Sydney Porter, all of whom made significant contributions to games this season.

"You never know who is going to show up and just surprise you," he said. "Hopefully it will all come together next year.  This a really good group of girls that I have enjoyed coaching very much.  With everything they have had to juggle this year, they still showed up and it has been a fun season."

A few Lady Mavericks also received awards at the end of this soccer season.  Ivy Sowell, Lanie Potter, Thea Trammell and Anna Kate Griffin were each named to the All District team, recognizing their athletic achievement.