It took all of about three minutes for Ocean Springs’ boys to break through Monday night against an experienced Gulfport lineup.
The early setback almost seemed to galvanize the Admirals, however, as the home team equalized the game 10 minutes later and ultimately bested the Greyhounds 3-2 at the Herbert Wilson Recreation Center.
While the boys game was a shootout the girls played a scoreless first half and didn’t see a goal until well into the second frame, with Ocean Springs pulling out a narrow 1-0 victory.
“Sometimes you have to give credit to the other team. Gulfport does what they always do. They come out and pressure you and do well at it. Every now and then they get up in your backside and it makes it difficult to connect passes because now they’re in your head,” OSHS coach Jeff French said. “We just didn’t play our style of ball, which is unfortunate because we always know when we come over here and play Gulfport that that’s the style we’re going to get. It’s always going to be competitive whether Gulfport’s having an up year or down year because it’s one of the greatest rivalries on the Coast and arguably in the state.
“I felt like they came out and executed and we didn’t.”
Mike Jimenez put OSHS (3-3) ahead 1-0 three minutes into the match when he buried a rebound off of a Garrett Dean shot.
Lucas Ragula tied it for Gulfport (3-3) in the 14th minute on a header off a corner kick.
Both teams remained deadlocked for much of the second half until JoJo Cumberland scored on a spin-o-rama from the right side.
GHS coach Henrik Madsen admitted he was initially frustrated to see Cumberland spin when the ball came to him — at least until he saw it ripple the net for a 2-1 advantage.
“What a finish,” the long-time GHS coach said.
Three minutes later the Admirals were fouled just outside of the box and Gavin Taylor blasted a shot into the upper left corner, giving GHS a 3-1 lead. Jimenez scored on a penalty kick two minutes later but the Greyhounds were unable to knot the game.
“I think they responded well. It’s always tough to go down early, especially in the fashion we did. It’s hard to keep your head up. But I think there’s a little bit of a belief that they trust each other,” Madsen said. “There’s no doubt Ocean Springs has been where everyone wants to go to. The last five years they have been absolute class and we haven’t beaten them since my first year here, so this is a big deal for us.”
Ocean Springs girls 1, Gulfport 0
Jackie Dilorenzo scored the lone goal of the girls game in the 68th minute. Emma Hunt sent a corner kick into the box and the OSHS freshman sprung free from a crowd of crashing Greyhounds (4-1-1) to knock the ball home.
“My assistant said we were going to score tonight off a set piece, free kick or corner — and that’s exactly what happened,” OSHS girls coach Ryan Joiner said. “Jackie went in there and kind of gambled. She’s just a freshman and a brilliant player. Kind of gambled a little bit and I think it ended up hitting off her shoulder in the end.”
GHS (1-4-3) fell on a frigid night in South Mississippi, but Admirals coach Chris Pryor came away from the tight contest optimistic.
“We came in with a gameplan. We knew Ocean Springs was definitely one of the best 6A girls teams in the South,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we gave ourselves the best opportunity to play with them. We knew they were going to be athletic so having a good defensive strategy was going to be critical.”
Gulfport actually had a couple chances late to at least tie — or possibly win — the match, but one free kick clanked off the cross bar and another fast-break shot from the right side missed the far post by maybe 12 inches.
“With the number of young players we have there was some nervousness and it took us a while to get going,” Pryor said. “I felt like we held our ground and once we got past the nervous part and didn’t give up a goal we were able to move forward and really go at them at times.”