Loyd Star advances to soccer playoffs 3rd round

Published 4:35 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

Loyd Star soccer is going where it’s never been before as both the boys’ and girls’ teams are playing in the third round of the MHSAA Class I playoffs on Saturday.

The girls’ squad punched their ticket on Wednesday with a 5-0 win over McLaurin at Brandon High.

Junior Abby Burnett scored four goals and got in on one assist to lead the Loyd Star offense.

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Eighth grader Adi Holcomb scored the other goal for the Hornets. Sophomore Ady Locke was in on two assists for coach Jordan Lea and senior Mary Claire McCurley notched an assist as well.

“We played a complete game, taking care of business from the beginning whistle to the last whistle,” said Lea. “We played with aggression, heart and hustle which made for a winning recipe.”

The victory moved Loyd Star to 18-3 on the season.

On Saturday, Loyd Star will head to Biloxi to take on St. Patrick Catholic (15-1) for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

The lone loss of the season for St. Pat was a 3-0 defeat to 6A Ocean Springs in December.

Class I, which is made up of all soccer playing schools in the 1A-3A classification, has been long dominated by parochial schools like St. Patrick.

Our Lady Academy of Bay St. Louis won the 2022 Class I title and St. Andrew’s Episcopal won back-to-back Class I titles before that in 2020-2021.

In fact, since the MHSAA went to a 1A-2A-3A classification in 2000 for soccer, the girls’ state title for that group has been won by either OLA, St. Andrew’s, Madison-St Joe or Sacred Heart Catholic of Hattiesburg every year.

Lea knows his group will be playing a vaunted opponent on Saturday, but their coach believes greatly in what Loyd Star can accomplish when the team is playing for each other.

“When this team plays together and for each other, it makes our jobs as coaches much easier,” said Lea. “When they put their minds to it and are determined to accomplish the task at hand, there’s nothing this group of girls can’t accomplish. It’s because of that mindset that they’re going to the third round of the playoffs for the first time ever in program history.”

Loyd Star finished as Region 7-Class I runners-up behind Franklin County. FC had a first round bye and saw their season ended Wednesday in Meadville with a 4-1 loss to Sacred Heart.

Lea coaches both the girls’ and boys’ teams at Loyd Star and he’ll pull double duty on Saturday to coach the boys’ team in their third round matchup against Sacred Heart in Hattiesburg at 6 p.m.

The LS boys’ team punched their ticket to the third round with a 4-1 road win at Crystal Springs on Thursday.

Freshman Cooper Creel scored two goals while freshman Brody Thibodeaux added one goal and sophomore Mason Smith added another for the Hornets. Freshman Zac Reid was also in on an assist in the win.

“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but when it comes to the playoffs, you don’t complain about a win,” said Lea. “The first half was somewhat rough and I was curious to see what kind of team we have when we went down 1-0. The team proved to me that they’re a team who will fight, claw and scratch their way back into a game.”

Sacred Heart (10-3) beat Morton 3-0 in the second round to advance. Similarly to the girls’ side, the boys’ division of Class I has also been dominated by private and parochial schools like Sacred Heart.

St. Stanislaus of Bay St. Louis won the Class I boys’ title last year. The last Class I boys’ soccer champion to not charge tuition to attend that school was Southeast Lauderdale in 2016.

Franklin County, the winner of Region 7 ahead of Loyd Star, lost 5-0 to St. Stanislaus on Wednesday in Meadville. 

Loyd Star is now 16-6 overall after getting the win against Crystal Springs.