Loyd Star soccer finishes atop Region 7-Class I in both divisions

Published 10:58 am Thursday, January 25, 2024

LOYD STAR — A Monday night 1-0 win over Franklin County in the boys’ match means that the Loyd Star Hornets have captured first place in both the girls’ and boys’ side of in Region 7-Class I soccer.

Jordan Lea coaches both teams for the Hornets.

The victory on Monday by Loyd Star (17-1-1) broke a 12 season strangle hold on first place in the region by Franklin County (10-4-2) and coach Jeff Long.

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The Hornets had beaten Franklin County 1-0 in Meadville on Dec. 11. The lone loss of the season for Loyd Star was a 1-0 setback to 5A Brookhaven High (12-7). Lea’s squad also tied 2-2 with 6A Warren Central (11-4-1) during the season.

The match was won on Monday by a Nathan Mills goal for Loyd Star that came towards the midway point of the second half. 

The shutout was the 12th clean sheet of the season for Loyd Star goalkeeper Jaden Lea who had 11 stops on Monday.

Lea and Mills are joined in the senior class by Caleb Smith, James Goodwin, Cooper Reid and Caden White. The juniors on the team are Mason Smith, Ronnie Smith, Alex Gonzalez and Brody Banks. The sophomore class for the Hornets is composed of Dawson White, Brody Thibodeaux, Kaleb Waldrop, Jamisyn Kelly, Joey Smith, Casen Easterling, Kaughner Melton, Cooper Creel and Zachary Reid. Freshmen for LS this season include Riley Friloux, Casen Easterling, Joey Smith, Jamisyn Kelly, Brennen Reid and Kaleb Waldrop. Rounding out the roster are eighth grader Jose Perez, seventh grader Zane Rutland, eighth grader Justin Hutson, seventh grader Harrison Calcote, seventh grader Memphis Falvey, eighth grader Mason Easy, seventh grader Lyric Foster and seventh grader Korbin Waldrop.

“Ever since the summer began, we’ve been working for this moment,” said Lea. “We constantly said this is the best team we’ve ever had at Loyd Star and tonight we didn’t just talk the talk, but we walked the walk. We were down three offensive starters, but we didn’t back down from a very good Franklin County team. I am so proud of my guys for winning district for the first time in school history. This is a night they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, and I’m truly blessed to be the coach of a team who wants to win more than they want to breathe.”

Franklin County (8-6-4) took the opening girls’ match on Monday by a 2-1 advantage in overtime. Despite the loss, Loyd Star (15-3) had wrapped up a second straight Region 7 title on Friday with a 3-1 win over Wesson.

FC led 1-0 in the first half after a goal by Edniya Gorden. The match was tied by an Abby Burnette goal for Loyd Star in the second half.

A Co-Lin softball signee, the goal was the 39th of the season for Burnette, who had scored all three goals in the win over Wesson last week. 

Franklin County got the game winner on a free kick by Greyonne Queen just before the end of the second overtime period.

The region title is the second in three years for Loyd Star. After graduating goal scorer and All-Area MVP Mary Claire McCurley last season, Lea said his team was ready to show in 2023-2024 that they had what it takes to finish in first place.

“Winning the district was a season goal of ours,” said Lea. “These girls have had people doubting them and what they would do this year, ever since last season ended in the playoffs at Saint Patrick. All they heard all summer was how they weren’t good enough to win district and I’m so proud to see them prove those doubters wrong. One thing I’ve learned about this group is when they want something, they’ll work until they get it.”

Burnette is the only senior on the team this season. Juniors playing this year for the Hornets include Ady Locke, Chloe Rodriquez, Hayden Renfro, Ainsley Gennaro and Arryana Rushing. The sophomore class for LS is Jaiden Clary, Amelia Thornton and Emma King. Freshman suiting up this season for Lea are Samantha Reed, Maya Wyant, Adi Holcomb and Addilyn Kelly. Also on the roster are seventh grader Lydia Warren, eighth grader Taylor Nelson, seventh grader Laura Lee Wilson, seventh grader Scarlett Case, eighth grader Jakayla Banks, eighth grader Maci Calcote, seventh grader Harper Walters and eighth grader Dezyriah Banks.

Loyd Star will close out the regular season with road matches at Brookhaven High (Jan. 29) and North Pike (Feb. 1) before beginning postseason play by hosting a home match in the first round of the MHSAA playoffs.