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By RUSSELL TURNER – Herald Editor
Greene County High School’s soccer complex will be a busy place this Friday night as the Wildcats and Lady Cats will host a rare double-header in the first round of the MHSAA 4A State Playoffs.
Both the GCHS boys and girls finished second in Region 7-4A, locking down home field advantage in the Round 1 matchups set for Friday on High School Road. The Wildcats, who finished the region schedule with a 4-2 record, will take on Mendenhall, the third seed out of Region 5-4A. The Lady Wildcats will match up with Quitman, who landed as the No. 3 seed from Region 5-4A despite falling to region-leading Northeast Jones by a 7-0 margin on Tuesday.
The games were originally set to be played on Saturday, but were move up a day due to the threat of inclement weather expected in the area on Saturday. Times for the games on Friday are set for 5:30 p.m. for the Lady Wildcats vs Quitman matchup. The GCHS boys’ match against Mendenhall will follow at 7:30 p.m.
The Lady Cats did not know who they would face until Wednesday morning. Head Coach Janna Maxwell says that isn’t a concern for her and that her team stands ready for the challenge.
“The girls are very excited to extend their season,” Maxwell said. “When I look at this year’s team, I feel we have the individual talent and team chemistry to make a deep run into the playoffs.”
“Of course the girls have to show up and play, but I am very confident in their abilities to achieve great results during this postseason. I know this year’s seniors are definitely ready to lead us.”
The Lady Cats entered last Thursday’s region finale against Forrest County AHS with a playoff spot secured, but with questions about exactly where they would finish. They didn’t get the help they needed to overtake Poplarville for the No. 1 seed, but definitely took care of business on their end with a dominating 7-0 shutout win over the visiting Lady Aggies.
Individual stats from the match were not available for this report.
The GCHS boys were locked in as the No. 2 seed prior to Thursday’s matchup. But, the Wildcats weren’t complacent and finished the region slate with a 5-2 win in front of a big home crowd on Senior Recognition Night.
“It was a great way to end region play with a win over FCAHS,” GCHS Head Coach Paul Martin said. “We were slow to get into a rhythm passing and moving the ball, but I give Coach Todd Smith from FCAHS credit for that as his teams always play us hard.”
Dalton Hicks started the scoring for GCHS on an assist from senior Logan Smith. The Cats took a 2-0 lead shortly afterward when junior Rhett Brewer scored off an assist from junior Jack Tungett. Sophomore Hunter McMillon made it 3-0 with a nice finish on a crossing shot from senior Logan Smith. Brewer’s second goal pushed the lead to 4-0.
Hayden Grice scored for FCAHS to make it 4-1 and added the Aggies’ second goal on a penalty kick following a handball call in front of the GCHS goal. GCHS got its final score in between Grice’s goals after McMillon was fouled in the box on the other end of the field. Brewer earned a hat trick by converting the penalty kick that followed the foul.
It was a nice win for the Wildcats as they prepare for the playoffs starting this week.
“We are looking forward to hosting the first round playoff game and hopefully making a run (in the postseason),” Martin added. “We have grown in confidence all year. Even in our losses we played well.”
“We struggled to score goals at times, but we have a talented group who has gotten sharper as the season progressed.”