(Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Starkville Yellowjackets didn't want there to be any question by the end of the night which soccer team was the best in Class 5A, Region 3, District 4.
With Thursday's 5-0 win over the Neshoba Central Rockets, the Jackets clinched first place in the division and will host a first-round playoff match Tuesday night.
"It's a long time coming," Starkville boys coach Brian Bennett said. "We had tied for the division the last two years with TUpelo, but our motto has been leave no doubt this season, put everyone away, finish No. 1 and not let it get down to the tiebreaker. It feels good."
The Jackets improved to 3-0 in the division and 9-3 overall. Starkville has already swept Neshoba Central and face New Hope again at home tonight. The Jackets defeated the Trojans 8-0 on Wednesday night.
Night may have fallen by the time SHS had secured the division title, but it was still Day time.
Price Day scored two goals within one minute of the first half to give the Jackets a 3-0 cushion at halftime.
"Coach told us we needed to get up on them so we could coast and get ready for (today) because it still means something with a division game," Day said. "We just wanted to put them away as soon as we could."
Justin Gordon scored the first goal of the match for Starkville at the 24th minute of the first half, then Kase Kingery had a pair of goals in the second half to put match away.
Kingery and Day are two of eight senior Jackets on the roster and have been the leaders of the team.
"We had two seniors last year that led the team, but this year, we had to step up," Day said. "Me, Addison (Watson), JR (Tomlinson), Kase are extraordinary players and everybody is stepping up. That's a big thing for us."
After enduring a season with so much weather problems, Bennett was happy to finally be able to show the home crowd what SHS can do.
"(Neshoba has) a very athletic team," Bennett said. "We had chances to put a lot more goals away, but just didn't do it."
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