Kareli Mendoza

Kareli Mendoza tries to work past an Itawamba AHS defender.

PONTOTOC- The Pontotoc High soccer teams split a Division 2-4A matchup against Itawamba AHS last Tuesday, with the girls taking a tough loss on a late goal by the the Lady Indians and the Warriors winning in a penalty kick shootout.

(G) Itawamba AHS 3, Pontotoc 2  

Julianna Motes didn’t have to be told twice to take her shot. The sophomore's goal in the 74th minute lifted Itawamba AHS girls to a 3-2 win last week.

“Coach told us before the game, ‘If you have a shot, just take it.’ And so I just took it,” Motes said.

IAHS saw a 2-0 halftime lead disappear by the midway point of the second half. After a listless first half, Pontotoc (9-5) was energized by a goal from Avery Walton in the 44th minute, and Kareli Mendoza scored in the 61st minute to knot it at 2-2.

“The second half they came out and stepped up their pressure and caught us off guard there,” IAHS coach Randy Earnest said.

Motes found an opening in Pontotoc’s defense late in the game when she made a run down the left side of the pitch. Her strike from the top of the box found the net, and Itawamba’s defense held from there.

“She was our spark,” Earnest said. “She always seems to have a good game against Pontotoc.”

Motes had an assist on the match’s first goal, finding Haley Ricks deep in the box in the ninth minute.

The Lady Indians took a 2-0 lead when Olivia Smith punched in a rebound in the 26th minute.

“We didn’t execute the game plan whenever they did score,” Pontotoc coach Justin Jensen said. “But whenever we did execute the game plan, we were putting the ball in the back of the net. Right now we have to be an 80-minute team and not play 60 minutes in an 80-minute division game.”

(Boys) Pontotoc 2, Itawamba 1

The Warriors won 3-2 on penalty kicks to take sole possession of first place in the division.

Ashton Maffett scored on the fifth and final kick for Pontotoc (8-4, 5-0).

IAHS led 1-0 after a Frank Rodriguez goal in the 27th minute. The Warriors evened it up in the 54th minute when Spencer Bass scored on as assist from Alan Sopino.

Neither team could score during the two 10-minute overtime periods.

“We’ve got senior night at home, we’ve got a big rival with Itawamba, so I just challenged the guys at halftime to step up and play 40 minutes,” Pontotoc coach Cullen Pollard said of his halftime speech. “We didn’t possess the ball well in the first half, and in the second half I thought we did.”

In other action last week Pontotoc swept South Pontotoc on Thursday, with the girls winning 7-0 and the boys winning 5-1.

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