Kealan Bagget slammed home a free kick from about 20 yards out Tuesday as Ocean Springs escaped Biloxi 2-1 in overtime in the opening round of the Class 6A boys soccer playoffs.
The Greyhounds (18-3-2) advance to meet Brandon in the second round Saturday at Ocean Springs. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. The Lady Greyhounds (14-6-4) beat Biloxi 2-0 in Tuesday’s opening round of the girls playoffs and will host Oak Grove at 1 p.m. Saturday
For most of the boys game, Biloxi was patient on offense, carefully seeking out times to attack while packing the defensive zone. This strategy almost brought home the win for the Indians after Cole Switzer found Ramario Linton in the middle of the Greyhound box about 15 yards out for the first goal of the game with 26 minutes left to play.
“They had an excellent game plan against us,” Ocean Springs coach Jeff French said. “They had some good strategy against us and they executed it almost flawlessly.”
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Biloxi coach Randall Molsbee said he switched up the Indians’ formation to give the Greyhounds something they hadn’t seen all year.
“We jammed them up and they couldn’t get any open shots,” he said.
The Greyhounds pressed all game against Biloxi, bombarding goalkeeper Maddux Trochessett throughout the match. Every time an Ocean Springs player came through, though, Trochessett rose to the challenge, recording 10 saves on the night.
“That was a little more than we wanted to give up against a team like Ocean Springs,” Molsbee said, noting Trochessett made several key saves that kept Biloxi in the game.
With 5:38 left in regulation, Ocean Springs’ Caleb Burke got the ball in front of the Indians’ goal around 12 yards out. Burke dribbled through a pair of Indians defenders and, from 8 yards out, launched a shot that beat Trochessett and tied the game.
Trochessett and Max Higginbotham later had to leave the game after banging heads.
For the first 10-minute overtime period, the Indian defense prevented a quality Ocean Springs shot on goal. However, 90 seconds into the second overtime, Burke was tackled hard by the Indian defense near the middle of the Biloxi goal about 20 yards out, drawing a free kick.
Bagget then placed the kick perfectly over the Indians’ wall and into the goal for the decisive strike.
“At the end of the day, you have to have someone step up and make a play,” French said, noting Burke’s shot near the end of regulation to tie the game and Baggett’s game-winning shot. “Burke’s shot was just a great shot.”
Ocean Springs girls 2, Biloxi 0: Early practice paid off for the Lady Greyhounds as Camille Blankenship’s almost perfect corner kick found Kayley Fountain, who headed the ball in for the game’s first score with 31:31 left in regulation.
The Lady Greyhounds (14-6-4) added a second goal with less than a minute to play when Blankenship found Lindsay Charlton with a pass down the left sideline.
“That was something we put in at a 6 a.m. practice Monday,” OSHS coach Ryan Joiner said of Blankenship’s pass to Fountain.
Blankenship said she hit the ball where she wanted and it “found Kayley’s head.”
“It was a great kick,” Fountain said of Blankenship’s corner, adding that she noted the Biloxi goalkeeper was playing to the left, allowing her to put the ball in the right side of the net.
Blankenship said the win against Biloxi was needed.
“We’ve had a rocky span at the last part of the season,” she said.
Joiner said one of the keys to the win was the play of his defensive backfield, which allowed only one Biloxi shot on goal.
“They did what they had to do,” he said, noting the play of Haley Roll, Makenzie Ezell and Kinsley Harmon in front of goal keeper Autumn Fike. “Defense wins games and championships.”
Biloxi coach Hillary Ladner said the match closed out a promising season for the Indians.
“We had a new team built around seniors and freshmen,” she said, adding she was excited about the underclassmen coming back for Biloxi next year. “I’m happy with the game.”
The Indians have 10 players who are sophomores or younger.
Ladner also singled out the play of her defensive backfield, noting that she had two eighth graders back there for most of the game.
Fountain, who scored the Greyhounds’ winning goal and is second on the team with 14 goals, will miss the next two games should they continue to advance in the playoffs and will not return unless the Greyhounds advance to the state title match.
In the final minutes of the game, Fountain got into a fight with Biloxi’s Curissa Beatty, with both players receiving red cards for fighting — a mandatory two-game suspension.