SA soccer squad records shutout against Heritage
Switching to an up top position with the Starkville Academy girls soccer team has been a good fit for Jessica Dennis.
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Dennis had adapted well and has taken up much of the scoring slack while primary goal-getters Tiffany Huddleston and Sallie Kate Richardson have been recovering from injuries.
In Thursday's 9-0 victory against Heritage Academy at the Starkville Sportsplex, Dennis scored three of the goals with two of them coming in the first 15 minutes of the match.
"Jessica is playing much better," Starkville Academy coach Robert Gardner said. "I thought she played well against Pillow, but I don't think it was her best performance. You can see it's getting more and more positive. We've played four matches since then and there have been four good performances from her."
After switching from the middle position, Dennis admits being more comfortable up top.
"Either one is fine with me, but it's been a better opportunity for me to work the ball," Dennis said. "I like working with teammates to help them score or get the opportunity to score also.
"With the injuries, we've been playing in different spots and just wherever we can. I just want to help out in any way to get the ball in the goal."
Along with Dennis' scoring, Huddleston, Payton Allen and Bailey Clark each had a goal as the Lady Vols took a commanding 6-0 halftime advantage.
Jessica Tranum, Tiffany Evans and Nora Kathryn Carroll scored one goal each in the second half to put the finishing touches on the SA victory.
The Lady Vols have one senior and one junior on the roster with the rest being sophomores and under.
"The majority of us are sophomores so we have a big future ahead of us," Dennis said. "By playing together and working the ball, prepares us for the future."
One of the 8th graders contributing significant minutes in the last five games has been Jordan Jackson. Her play has caught the eye of Gardner.
"I'd like to commend Jordan Jackson the last five games because she's been one of our top performers," Gardner said. "She may be just an 8th grader, but she's been playing fantastic."
The Lady Vols have out-scored their last two opponents 16-0 and have improved their overall record to 8-6.
With a 7-2 conference mark, Starkville Academy is assured of hosting a playoff match against either Jackson Academy, Presbyterian Christian or Madison-Ridgeland Academy.
"I'm very comfortable with the way we're playing come playoff time," Gardner said. "We're 10 days away from the first playoff game so I'm pretty happy with the performances and happy with the work. I'm happy to get the results that we are."
There are two home matches for the Lady Vols next week with Jackson Academy coming in on Monday, which could be a playoff preview, and Clarksdale-Lee on Thursday.