OCEAN SPRINGS-- Kyle Hillyard powered a penalty kick from 12-yards out to lead Ocean Springs to a 2-1 win over fourth-ranked Madison Central on Friday night at Greyhound Stadium.
The win was the first Greyhounds win over the Jaguars since the 2010 6A state championship game. Since the Greyhounds' last win over Madison Central, the three-time defending state champion Jaguars (12-2-2) have beaten Ocean Springs (10-5-2) twice in the state championship game.
"It's exhilarating! It's amazing!" said Hillyard. "It's the first time we've beat them."
"Nobody on the team had beaten Madison-Central," Ocean Springs coach Jeff French said. "We had only one goal during the game - to beat Madison Central."
Hillyard's goal came after Allan Mays was fouled in the keeper's box with just under four minutes left to play in regulation. As one of four Greyhound captains, Hillyard wanted to take the penalty shot.
''I feel it's part of leadership to take the shot," he said. "I felt confident I could make it."
Hillyard set the ball down about 12 yards outside the Jaguars' goal. Opening his eyes, Hillyard took a look at the goalkeeper, who was starting to make his move for the ball.
"I knew we had just won the game," he said.
A corner kick with P.J. Erwin heading in Mayes kick gave the Greyhounds a 1-0 lead with just under 17 minutes left.
Madison Central though would respond when Ridge Brohaugh took a rebound shot and found the back of the Greyhounds' net to tie the game at 1-1.
Madison Central coach Cecil Hinds felt Ocean Springs dominated.
"Ocean Springs was the better team tonight," Hinds said. "It's fortunate for us to keep them tied as long as we did."
One key to the Greyhounds' win was their defensive play - particularly on kicks and throw-ins from Jaguars Branden Livingston - led by defensemen Matthew Pleasant and Nate Bond. Many of Livingston's throw-ins and kicks accurately came in front of the Greyhounds goal only to be pushed out by the Ocean Springs defense, often without a shot on goal.
"He's been an offensive threat like that for over three years," Hinds said. "He's grown into that role."
French made an adjustment at the half, challenging his defensemen to challenge the throws and kicks and have goalie Travis Harper come out and punch the ball out of the goal area.
"He didn't have any punch outs in the first half," French said. "But we had three big punch outs in the second half."
Harper finished with eight saves.
Madison Central girls 3, Ocean Springs 0: Madison Central's defense allowed only one shot on goal as the Lady Jaguars (14-0-1) shutout the Lady Greyhounds.
While Ocean Springs had few chances to score in the first half, Lady Greyhounds coach Patrick Hayes moved a player forward from defense to offense with the move paying off in more offensive chances in the second half.
But behind the play of Madison Deslatte, Scarlett Hodges, and Kate Russell Snopek, Madison Central goalie Caroline Runion had to make few plays on the night.
"That's good for us," said Jaguars coach Cecil Hinds. "It is our philosophy, from the defenders back to the goalie, not to give up any goals. If you play defense and don't give up goals, you always have a chance for the win. Our players were very disciplined and it paid off."
For much of the first half, Ocean Springs and Madison Central played evenly, although the Jaguars gained the early offensive advantage against the Lady Greyhounds (9-5-2), but were unable to score. Tay Cavett was able to put Madison-Central on top with a blast from about 31 yards out with 21 minutes left in the half.
With just under eight minutes left to play in the first half, Deslatte found Allie Grace Borst in front of the Ocean Springs goal about 20 yards out. Borst pounded the ball into the goal to give the Jaguars a 2-0 lead. Two-and-a-half minutes later, Deslatte found Emily Ledoux on the corner kick for the final goal of the game.
Hayes attributed the loss to youth.
"We weren't willing to battle them," he said. "In order to have a chance to beat a team like that, you can't play with fear. We are trying to fill some big shoes with freshmen. They are athletic and talented, but they are sometimes not ready for varsity."