Cougars take playoff spot by scruff of the neck, win district
Published 7:32 pm Thursday, February 9, 2023
BROOKHAVEN — Cooper Strickland scored an early goal enroute to a 6-1 thrashing of Copiah Academy Thursday night. The win pushed Brookhaven Academy on to the playoffs where they will be the No. 1 seed and host St. Aloysius next Monday at BA. Brookhaven Academy won district by beating Copiah Academy.
Brookhaven Academy had to win the game to make the playoffs, a loss would have knocked them out of the season. Rain forced the game to be played at Co-Lin Community College and the environment was tense with both teams needing a win to keep their season alive.
Senior Parker Moak and the Cougars were focused and played solid soccer for the fifth game in a row. Strickland’s early goal was a shot just over the keeper’s hands followed by another breakaway chance by Yojan Hernandez. Yojan would score a goal a few minutes later to alleviate any pressure. Strickland scored the third goal of the game 10 minutes before halftime.
“It was a little nerve wracking coming in. We knew what we had to do. We executed well though and have played our best soccer these last few games,” Moak said. “Scoring early helped a lot. With this big of a game, it helped settle everyone back in the game. Everyone has helped with our success. We won balls in the middle of the field, defense has been playing its best and the offense has scored goals. It is the combination of playing as a team.”
Matt Newman scored a goal by heading in a corner two minutes into the second half. Strickland got his hat trick on an excellent pass from Enrique Hernandez. Enrique continues to drive the team’s push from midfield and uses his body well to win balls and free-kicks.
Midway through the second half, Reeves Lindley made a streaking run into the attacking third and was tackled on the edge of the box. Strickland stepped up to take a free kick and fired a low shot which snuck past the wall and into the far post for his fourth goal of the evening.
Copiah Academy would pull a goal back with eight minutes left in the game but was unable to score any more. Brookhaven Academy’s 6-1 win sets up a home playoff game. Head Coach Alex Brown told the team it might be their first home boys soccer playoff game in school history. Kickoff for the match will be at 6 p.m.
“It is special. I feel like home field is the best thing that could happen for us,” Moak said. “Last year we got beat by Copiah Academy. It helped a lot especially for this game. Knowing how we went out last year we knew it would be hard. We have done good and had younger guys step up. Austin Tanksley came in and was a lot of help as have Lindley and Taylor Evans. Strickland has helped too although he is a junior. Levi Dale and Parker Miller have stepped up as well.”
Moak was one of four seniors recognized on senior night. Tyler Shann, Enrique, Moak and Will Johnson were honored after the game. Moak has played soccer since he was in eighth grade. He originally played basketball but decided to play soccer instead and fell in love with it.
“The sport is fun. I don’t hate the practices, they aren’t miserable. I come out here and have fun,” Moak said. “I plan on going to Mississippi State and studying electrical engineering.”