Lady Panthers, Hornets sharp for playoffs

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — Ole Brook scored twice to beat Loyd Star 2-0 in a regular season girls soccer finale Monday night. The match helped both teams get prepared for the first round of the playoffs. 

Loyd Star Head Coach Jordan Lea said his purpose for the match was to work on the Hornets defense and to improve going into their first round game against Magee. Early on, Loyd Star applied pressure on the Brookhaven goal but could not find a breakthrough. 

Ole Brook’s Lucy Williams opened the scoring with 22 minutes left in the first half to give the Panthers the lead following great buildup play. Hailey Breazeale scored again for Brookhaven on a long range shot. Her goal put away the Hornets with 30 minutes left in the second half. 

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Brookhaven Head Coach Dustin Bairfield said his squad will have to play at East Central to open the playoffs. 

“They will be a good team, Loyd Star is a good team. We wanted to make up for an earlier rainout and play a good team before the playoffs,” Bairfield said. “They did a good job of getting us ready. They are physical and it wasn’t easy. I didn’t want to go two weeks without having a game. I’m glad the weather cooperated with us.”

Bairfield said the match should help the Panthers mentally and physically. Players need touches on the ball and in match situations to knock any rust off in the break between regular season and playoffs. 

He feels the future is bright with this young squad of mostly ninth graders. 

“This group is really committed which makes it easier as a coach,” Bairfield said. “They want to improve and do better each game. YOu see improvement from beginning to now. It has been remarkable.” 

Lea said the loss should help his girls focus on the playoffs and be prepared. If Loyd Star can beat Magee at home Saturday, kickoff is at noon, they would likely have to face Sacred Heart, one of the challenging private schools. 

A private school has won the MHSAA Class 1 girls soccer state championship every year since 2000. Vicksburg was the last public school to win the Class 1 girls state championship in 1999. Fortunately, Loyd Star has the most confidence they have ever had. 

“The girl’s confidence has grown over the season. They play smart already,,” Lea said. “The girls have proved themselves this year to other people and themselves. They have been really locked in this year and are hard to beat.”