WL Bears playing in first-ever soccer playoff match Tuesday night

Published 6:25 pm Monday, January 27, 2020

The history-making season by the West Lincoln Bears (12-4-3) and first year coach Jeremy Johnson continues Tuesday night with a MHSAA Class I first round soccer playoff game in Hattiesburg.

Johnson and his crew of Bears are taking on the Sacred Heart Crusaders (11-2-3) at 6 p.m. in the Hub City.

Coached by Joe Falla — the Crusaders are defending state champs.

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A private, \Catholic school originally founded in 1900, Sacred Heart has lost this season to 6A Northwest Rankin (19-0-1) and 4A St. Stanislaus (13-6-1).

The Crusaders won Class I-Region 8 by outscoring their opponents 45-5.

West Lincoln ended up finishing as runner-up in Region 7 with an 8-2 division record. Franklin County captured first place with a 9-1 mark.

The Bears beat FC 2-0 on Perry Miller Field Dec. 20, but saw the Bulldogs come back for revenge a month later when they closed the regular season out with a 4-0 victory over WL in Meadville.

Franklin County (16-3-4) hosts St. Patrick tonight.

It was Sacred Heart that eliminated Franklin County 1-0 last season in the second round of the playoffs.

Johnson will hope to get something offensively tonight from his senior scoring duo of Jacob Thornhill and Jacob Lofton. Thornhill leads the Bears with 19 goals and Lofton is second on the team with 14.

Junior Caleb Myers has been the main goalkeeper this season for the Bears. In a 7-6 win over Bogue Chitto Myers made two big penalty save kicks that helped give his team a win that ultimately clinched their playoff berth.

The trip to the postseason comes in just the third season of soccer for West Lincoln

A school with no soccer tradition — facing one of the small school powers year-in and year-out in MHSAA soccer, Johnson wants his team to believe that anything is possible.

“I just want them to remember that we’ve been proving people wrong all season and this isn’t much different,” said Johnson. “Sacred Heart is the top ranked team in the state, but our theme all year has been “why not us” and that’s what I’ve been reminding them of.”