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SHS set for first round of playoffs

January 23, 2012

Brian Bennett and squad are set to make a deep run in the playoffs. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Both Starkville High School soccer teams finished first in Class 5A, Region 3, District 4 this season.
That all goes out the window today as the first round of the playoffs is set to begin.

Both squads will be hosting the Center Hill Mustangs of Olive Branch at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The girls' game is set to kickoff first.

The Yellowjackets ran through division play finishing with a perfect 4-0 record.

Although, it was an easy stretch to get in the playoffs, head coach Brian Bennett's squad is excited about the opportunity.

"Marginal," Bennett said of how Monday's practice went. "I think the guys are really excited. Almost a little too excited so I hope we can get that gauge down (today) before the game."

It has been a couple of years since SHS has squared off against the Mustangs. Bennett does not know much about Center Hill, but believes it has a young team.

"We played them a couple of years ago and I have talked to some of the coaches," Bennett said. "I don't know a whole lot. I hear they are pretty young. They have got a decent squad, but I am hoping our size and speed will counter any skill that they might have."

The Yellowjacets were ousted in the second round of the playoffs last year by Madison Central. Bennett wants his squad to understand the importance of advancing past one or two games.

He believes his squad has a lot of confidence and is convinced his players will carry that the entire postseason.

"We kind of went over and talked about if we were in the same brackets, matching up with Oxford or Callaway in the second round and Hernando or whoever in the third round," Bennett said. "They are very confident."

The Mustangs went 7-13 this year. They are coming off a loss to Tupelo.

The Lady Jackets had to avenge a loss to New Hope to claim the top spot in the division.

After getting that win on Friday night, head coach Anna Albritton gave her team a much needed weekend off.

"We didn't practice over the weekend," Albritton said. "We played three games in three days and my players are physically spent. We want them to get their legs back underneath them. Practice (Monday) will be light; just some shooting."

Like Bennett, Albritton does not know much about their opponent, but she is hoping a good game will give them the victory.

"We went up there about three years ago," Albritton said. "They were a physical team and a good team. I have no video on them, so I really don't know much. If we just play like we did Friday night against New Hope and stay connected, we will be just fine."

One of the Lady Jackets' best player, Noa Hardin, left Friday night's game after she was injured.
Albritton said she planned not to practice her on Monday.

"We have got other girls who need to finish for us," Albritton said. "I am going to need Noa in the later rounds, so she may not play at all."

The games will be played at Yellowjacket Stadium.

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