OCEAN SPRINGS-- Ocean Springs and St. Stanislaus could have taken Friday off. The Class 6A and 4A soccer powers instead have made it a tradition to finish the regular season against one another.
Looking for one last test before they begin their respective runs through the state tournament, the Class 6A and 4A powers met at Greyhound Stadium with host Ocean Springs coming away with a 2-1 victory.
Friday marked the third straight year the Greyhounds have earned a one-goal decision, which OSHS coach Jeff French said is likely what it'll take to make another post-season run.
"That's as good of a team as we're going to play in the playoffs. We wanted that. We wanted the challenge," he said. "I'm glad we were able to hop up early and then hang on because that's what we did. We hung on in the second half against a good team.
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"Sometimes you're going to have to just hang on and grit it out and that's what we did."
Ocean Springs (14-6-2) jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the Rockachaws (18-3-1) in the first 10 minutes. Steven Gallagher scored six minutes in by blasting the ball from the middle of a crowd into the net. Mike Jimenez extended Ocean Springs' lead three minutes later, scoring on an Allan Mays centering pass from point-blank range.
"We want to come out and jump on them early. When you get into the playoffs it's a game of momentum at any level that you play. If you can get the momentum on your side you'll be OK. I thought we did really well," French said. "We gave up that goal going into the half and I think that inspired them to play well."
The Rockachaws split Ocean Springs' lead with two minutes remaining in the first half when Andrew Elkins served a free kick into the box from 35 yards out and Ismael Khouma headed the ball past the Greyhound keeper.
"Ocean Springs is a first-class program, talented in all 11 spots on the field and very deep. It gives us a sense of what we can see in the playoffs," SSC coach Ryan Joiner said "They would be the strongest team we'll see, so they give us a chance to hone some things we need to work on."
Despite the early deficit, Joiner was encouraged by how his players responded.
"I saw a bit of fight and bounce back. I had to put some kids in different spots and I thought we played very well the last 60 minutes," he said. "We showed a real desire."
The Rockachaws will play Vancleave on Saturday before opening the post-season Monday when they host Sumrall. The Greyhounds begin their playoff march Tuesday against Oak Grove at home.