FLOWOOD Northwest Rankin is on a mission.

The Cougars have boasted a strong defense for most of the season and it showed on Friday as Northwest Rankin shut out Tupelo 3-0.

It was a rematch of last year’s Class 6A second-round playoff game that saw the Cougars win 4-1.

“I thought tonight we played for about 60 minutes, but we finished strong,” said Northwest Rankin coach Chris Gardner. “Tupelo is a very good team and they came down here expecting to win and they played like that.

“We normally play each other in the playoffs and glad we got to face them now, so if we do play them again it would be for the state championship.”

The Cougars scored all three goals in the second half.

Lucas Jaeger netted the first goal off a corner kick. Gavin Gaudin scored on a breakaway one minute later to extend the lead to 2-0.

Victor Castro added the final goal on a breakaway in the final two minutes.

With the win the Cougars (15-0), who lost to Gulfport in the 6A state title game last year, have now shut out 13 of their 15 opponents. They’ve have allowed only four goals all season – two to Pearl and two to Biloxi.

“We are a veteran team with nine seniors that play and have experience and they know how I like to play,” Gardner said. “We have a style we like to play, and the guys have seen it for so long. Experience goes a long way in this league and its paid off so far.”

Tupelo was held to seven shots on goal.

Back-to-back losses

The Golden Wave were coming off a loss to Region 2-6A foe Lewisburg in a shootout on Thursday.

“First half was really good for us we had some chances, but in the second they got the goal off the corner and then their so big and got two goals off their set pieces,” said Tupelo coach Harris Faucette. “The last two games have been good tough games for us and shows what we will see in the playoffs.”

The Golden Wave (9-2-1) planned to spend the night in Jackson and face Jackson Prep at noon today.

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