Eight Ocean Springs girls soccer players stepped up for shootout penalty kicks Saturday and all eight were successful. The result was a 1-0 victory over Madison Central for the MHSAA 6A state championship.
The Lady Greyhounds had to be perfect because Madison Central converted its first seven attempts before Ocean Springs goalie A’leigh Coleman stopped a shot by Audrey Eckerson.
“I first went the wrong way,” Coleman said. “Something inside of me told me to go the other way.”
After her save, Jackie Dilorenzo put the ball past Madison Central goalie Kellen Fairburn for the game and championship winner.
“A’leigh had just made an awesome save so I was really nervous. If I missed it would have had to go to another round of penalty kicks,” Dilorenzo said.
As the eighth kicker, she didn’t expect to have a shot.
“I don’t like penalty kicks at all. It’s a lot of pressure,” Dilorenzo said.
The Lady Greyhounds (17-3-3) won their second state title in Neil Scott’s first season as coach.
“That is absolutely the most worthwhile experience I have had as a coach,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to win a state championship and it was achieved today in what was definitely a team effort.”
The game went to a shootout after the teams battled scoreless through 80 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes of overtime.
Prior to Dilorenzo’s game winner, Mallory Bellon, Makenzie Ezell, Ameris Taylor, Erin Clifford, Kaylee Foster, Loren Winters and Kinsley Harmon made good on penalty kicks. Each faced pressure because Madison Central went first each round.
Madison Central dominated the first half with a 7-1 edge on shots and 7-0 on corner kicks, but could not score.
“We relied on our defense in the first half,” Scott said. “We made some tactical changes the second half that worked out.”
It was Ocean Springs’ third extra time win in the playoffs. The Lady Greyhounds beat George County 2-0 in overtime and Brandon in a shootout. Not counting shootout penalty kicks, Ocean Springs allowed only one goal in 400 minutes of playoff action.
Losing coach Cecil Hinds called it “a back and forth game between two good teams.”
He congratulated Ocean Springs and said “I’m extremely proud of my girls.”