By Gene Phelps
This time it counts. Oxford and Saltillo know that.
The two high school girls soccer teams, who split in two previous matches this season, play at 6 p.m. today in Oxford with a trip to Saturday’s Class 5A state championship game on the line.
“Both matches have been dogfights,” Saltillo coach Matthew Reeder said. “We won at their place and they beat us here.
“Both teams are pretty even as far as skills are concerned. It’s going to come down to who wants its more.”
Saltillo beat Oxford 2-1 and lost 2-0.
The Lady Tigers look to senior midfielder Morgan Dennis, an ICC signee. They also count on freshman forward Lexi Loden.
“It takes a full team effort,” Reeder said. “Morgan is an important part to our attack. It doesn’t matter to us who scores as long as Saltillo scores.”
Oxford is led by senior forward Zoe Scruggs, a Delta State signee.
Today’s 6 p.m. Class 4A state semifinals boys match between host Amory and Florence features a rematch.
The two teams played to a 1-1 tie Dec. 19 in the Oxford Showcase. The match time was 60 minutes instead of the usual 80 minutes.
“They’re solid,” Amory coach Nathan Clayton said. “They’ve got a lot of speed and size. They play really well in the midfield and get the ball to their forwards to get good shots on goal.”
Amory is coming off a 2-0 win over Pontotoc in the state quarterfinals. Aaron Goldman, who has scored four goals in the Panthers’ last three matches, and co-captain Trey Clark scored the goals. Brendan Koehn, who leads the team with 29 goals, added an assist.
“We have a few others who can score if teams concentrate on Brendan,” Clayton said. “If you play a regular defense on him, he’ll score. If you defense him. others can score.”
Lafayette’s Alley Houghton, the state’s all-time leading scorer, leads her team against Richland in the 4A state semifinals.
The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Lafayette.
Houghton has scored 34 goals this season.