For 74 minutes, the Ocean Springs and Gulfport girls soccer teams missed on several chances in a back-and-forth contest at Herbert Wilson Stadium.
It was at the 6-minute mark when the ball finally found its way to Lady Greyhounds sophomore Jackie Dilorenzo. Standing just above the 18-yard box, the midfielder lifted the ball toward the goal and found the back of the net to hand the Ocean Springs girls a 1-0 victory over Gulfport to claim the Class 6A South State championship Tuesday night.
“She picked up a 50-50 ball in the midfield, hit it one time with a great bending ball that just beat the keeper over the top,” Ocean Springs coach Neil Scott said. “That’s what she was told to do at halftime. She’s following directions to a T at that point. She was looking for something long distance, a one-time shot. She did exactly what was requested.”
It was all a blur for Dilorenzo, who was instantly mobbed by her teammates in a thick fog.
“It was crazy. I was overwhelmed,” she said. “My ears rang because we were all screaming. All I felt was love for my team. They’re so sweet.
“I was really happy and shocked that it went in.”
Ocean Springs (16-3-3) will play Madison Central (17-3-2) at Ridgeland High School at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the Class 6A state championship.
Freshman A’leigh Coleman picked up the shutout in goal for the Lady Greyhounds.
Once Ocean Springs finally managed to score Tuesday night, it was up to Scott to make sure his team kept their focus to advance.
“That’s my job, to calm things down,” Scott said. “We played them earlier this season. We were beating them with about 4 minutes left and they scored two goals in 4 minutes. We went from winning to tying to losing in about 4 minutes the last time we played them. In the last playoff game against Brandon, we were beating them until the last 45 seconds. It’s something we keep an extra eye on, the last few moments of the game.”
Scott is in his first year as the Ocean Springs head coach after moving over from Long Beach, which came up just shy of a Class 5A state title a year ago.
Scott believes he has a team built to win a championship.
“It’s a very experienced team,” Scott said. “Some of the girls have played in a state championship before. A lot of them are high-quality soccer players, not to mention great athletes on top of that. We’re a very capable team and we’ve shown that in the past 20 games here.”
The Lady Admirals finished their season with a record of 21-5.
Gulfport boys 3, Ocean Springs 1
Less than two minutes into the match, the Gulfport boys trailed 1-0 to Ocean Springs and there was good reason to be concerned for head coach Henrik Madsen.
“It was a complete disaster for us,” he said. “That’s how we went down to Oak Grove (in the previous round), on a long throw and that’s what we worked on this week, trying to defend it. We give up a goal in the first 2 minutes.”
Madsen’s worries were soon erased by a determined rally by the Admirals. Three different players scored on the way to a 3-1 victory over Ocean Springs to claim the Class 6A South State title.
Gulfport (18-2-4) will play Northwest Rankin (20-2-3) at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Ridgeland High School for the Class 6A state championship.
Seven minutes after Moses Brandenberg scored to open the match for Ocean Springs, senior Mohamed Dialo answered with a goal of his own to tie it up and spark the Admirals’ onslaught.
“We were mad because that’s what we were practicing all week,” Dialo said. “We just gave it up in the first few minutes. We’re good at bouncing back so ‘We got it, we got it.’”
Junior Ethan Boles added a goal at the 26:15 mark of the first half and senior Joseph Cumberland provided the insurance by scoring with 24 minutes remaining in the contest.
“This has been a good group,” Madsen said. “Every time we go down, they keep fighting and battling. This has been a fun group to deal with.”
Other South State scores
5A Boys — Long Beach 5, West Harrison 3 (4 goals by Kai VanCourt)
4A Boys — Richland 1, St. Stanislaus 1 (Richland advances on penalty kicks)
1A/2A/3A Boys - Sacred Heart 1, St. Patrick 0
5A Girls — Long Beach 3, West Jones 0
4A Girls — Florence 7, Bay High 0
1A/2A/3A Girls — Sacred Heart 5, St. Patrick 1
Saturday’s title games schedule
5A Girls — Lafayette vs. Long Beach, 4 p.m.
5A Boys — Lewisburg vs. Long Beach, 6 p.m.
6A Girls — Madison vs. Ocean Springs, 4 p.m.
6A Boys — Northwest Rankin vs. Gulfport, 6 p.m.