The Gulfport Lady Admirals soccer team is heading for the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs. So are the George County Rebels.
Junior forward Alexis Arnoult scored two goals as Gulfport defeated St. Martin 3-1 Tuesday in the opener of a girls-boys playoff doubleheader at Herbert Wilson Field.
In the boys contest, River Johnson scored a second-half goal and George County withstood a torrid Gulfport offense for a 2-1 victory.
Gulfport (12-3-2) travels to Brandon for second-round play Saturday. George County (11-5-3) will visit Oak Grove in its second-round boys contest.
“With St. Martin having the confidence coming out of their district into the playoffs, it was important for them to get in the game as quickly as possible,” Gulfport girls coach Chris Pryor said. “It was equally important that we establish ourselves early.”
Arnoult scored her first goal of the game 12 minutes into the contest and she came back with the second one just seven minutes later. The two goals give her 38 on the season. Charlotte Saari added a goal for a 3-0 lead just before halftime.
“We wanted to come out and stay strong and stay as a family,” said Arnoult, who has committed to Louisiana-Lafayette. “As long as we were connected and together, we knew we were going to win.
“We had to play our game. We have been working hard to get here.”
St. Martin, the 7-6A runner-up making its first playoff appearance, scored in the second half on a goal by Ashlyn Beam. The Yellow Jackets (8-10) also received sensational play in the net from eighth-grader Jaden Parker.
In the nightcap, George County jumped on top early 1-0 on a penalty kick by Josh Cochran just seven minutes in the contest. But Joseph Cumberland tied the game for Gulfport (12-10-1) just before halftime at 1-1.
Johnson scored 14 minutes into the second half, and then it became a wide ride as the Rebels turned back shot after shot from the Gulfport attackers.
“The keeper (Johnny Lorenzo) played a great game,” Gulfport coach Henrik Madsen said. “He made some saves where we thought the ball was in the back of the net. Somehow he ended up with it. You’ll have those games were the ball won’t go in and that’s how it goes.”
“We made some defensive moves that shocked me,” George County coach Tyler Williams said. “We recovered for each other.
“The early goal gave us the enthusiasm that pushed us into it, especially the one in the second half.”
Lorenzo stood tall in the net during both halves.
“It was a tough game,” Lorenzo said. “ My team did everything they could, and I asked for more. They dug and dug. We kept in there and I was proud of them.”