West Lincoln enters final district match looking for key wins
Published 12:21 pm Monday, January 15, 2024
WEST LINCOLN —Head Coach Dane Hodges said the West Lincoln Girls Soccer team has a chance to leap frog Bogue Chitto into a playoff position if they manage to beat Wesson Thursday night. West Lincoln Boys will be looking for their first win of the season against Wesson.
West Lincoln Girls beat Bogue Chitto 2-0 Friday night to set up a shot at making the playoffs. The boys lost 3-2 in a heartbreaker in overtime to Bogue Chitto in what could have been their first win of the season.
MHSAA Class 1 Region 7 advances four teams to playoffs. Currently, Bogue Chitto and West Lincoln are tied for fourth with records of 2-5. A win against Wesson could secure a playoff berth for West Lincoln.
Hodges said his team has played well up to this point in the season despite having an inexperienced squad. Six of the starting 11 players are first year players. The difference between the start of the year and at the end of the season is night and day.
“Early in the season they were learning and getting more comfortable and playing better. We are getting better on offense,” Hodges said. “Our issue early on was we didn’t have the experience to score but lately they have played well and scored more. Defeinsvily, we have limited the goals lately. I’m excited for Wesson. We have to beat Wesson. We are going in with that mentality.”
It is no small task. West Lincoln will have to play at Co-Lin Community College against Wesson Thursday. Co-Lin’s field is turf which changes how the ball bounces and how fast it rolls. Hodges said the defense will need to control the match on turf.
Wesson is a solid team this year, like all of the teams in the region, the Cobras have stepped up in quality of play. Possession and consistent play could be key in the match. Hodges said if the Bears can control possession then it will limit opportunities for Wesson.
West Lincoln is entering the match on the heels of a competitive game against Bogue Chitto. Senior Abbi Norsworthy scored the first goal against Bogue Chitto on an assist by senior Lari Jane Reed.
Freshman Kylie Jarancik steered in the second goal with a header on a cross made by freshman Dayle Easley to secure the win against Bogue Chitto. The young players have a bright future for West Lincoln. It was a big win for the Bears.
“I’m proud of the girls. They have made a big change from the start of the season,” Hodges said. “They will be tough in years to come. I’m impressed with the young girls who are naturally able to move the ball better. They look to pass and spread it out. There is potential for the future.”
Boys looking for a win
It has not been an easy year for West Lincoln’s boys team if you only glance at their record and scores. Hodges sees the season as another year of growth for the team. West Lincoln nearly beat Bogue Chitto for a second time this year but fell short in overtime.
The Bears had plenty of chances and could not capitalize on enough to win the match. Hodges said he was pleased with the boys’ effort in the match. West Lincoln will try to carry the momentum into Thursday’s district match with Wesson.
“The boys played extremely well against Bogue Chitto. It was the best we had done all season,” Hodges said. “We are young on the boys team. Bogue Chitto is much improved this year. It was a good match all the way around.”
West Lincoln junior forward Gabe Gennaro has pressure on his shoulders this season but has responded positively. Hodges said the Bears are moving the ball better going into their final district match against Wesson. The boys team has seen growth from the start of the year just as the girls have.
Currently, the Cobras are in third place with a district record of 3-3. Wesson is very athletic and skilled with the ball. West Lincoln will need to move the ball quickly and retain possession to beat Wesson Thursday.
“We have to be disciplined on defense and not stab at the ball. If we can play sound we could be in a good position to win,” Hodges said. “We have to get possession time in our favor. Less possession we have the pressure will build on our defense and eventually we will give up goals. Wesson is tough and is a program trending in the right direction.”
Hodges said he expects the match to be a good game. Practice could be disrupted this week depending on weather and if school is canceled or not.
West Lincoln has non-district matches against Hazlehurst and Terry to find a win before the end of the season if they are unable to beat Wesson Thursday night.
“We are fighting for our first win. The boys are working really hard,” Hodges said. “That is all I could ask of them. They work hard every single day. We are trending in the right direction. My goal is to get better every day. We have been competitive. We are getting there.”
Kickoff for the match against Wesson is at 5:30 with varsity boys to follow.