The Jackson Prep girls soccer team had two motivations in the Lady Patriots’ pursuit of a ninth MAIS championship — last year’s bitter loss to Madison-Ridgeland Academy in the Division I championship game and the preseason rankings.
“That was frustrating,” Prep coach Jon Marcus Duncan said of the loss to MRA in a shootout. The Lady Patriots dominated play throughout regulation and overtime, but could not get the ball into the MRA goal. “That was on their minds for 365 days,” he said.
“The other motivating factor was when the preseason rankings came out and we were number four.”
The Lady Patriots might have started out fourth, but they finished up No. 1 after beating Presbyterian Christian 2-0 in the title game on Oct. 5 at Jackson Prep. Prep (18-1-2) also had shutouts against Starkville Academy and Jackson Academy in the playoffs behind the solid play of sophomore goalie McKenzie Robinson and the back line of senior Ann Hilton Buckner, senior Morgan Reeves, freshman Addison Hughes and junior Caroline Hannon.
For the season, the Lady Patriots allowed only seven goals in 21 games and registered 15 shutouts.
But Duncan would not single out the defense for praise. “I like to say we were strong front to back,” he said.
Offensively, the team was led by sophomore Clayton Noblin with 28 goals and 10 assists, including a goal and an assist in the title game win. Beth Graeber had 10 goals and six assists and sophomore Olivia Brown nine goals and six assists before her season ended with a broken leg in September.
Duncan also lauded the play and leadership of seniors Falon Miskelly and Corrie Ray, who moved from midfield to attack following Brown’s injury. “It was a remarkable adjustment she made,” the veteran coach said.
Laurel Christian (13-3) had one goal from the start of the season — winning Division II, and the Lady Lions accomplished the goal with three playoff shutouts capped off by a 1-0 win over Indianola Academy in the title game on a goal by senior Ashliegh Badley.
Junior Marcie Napier led a balanced attack with 31 goals. Junior Darby Fisher scored 27 goals and senior Katie Valentine 21. Junior goalie Lydia Hinton had 11 shutouts.
“It was a great season,” said coach Lara Everwine. “I’m proud of my girls.”