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SHS soccer set for 5A North Half Championship game

January 30, 2012

The SHS soccer team is set for Hernando in the North Half Championship game.

The Starkville High School boys' soccer team is going where only one team has gone before.

Tonight Yellowjacket Field will be the site of the 5A North Half Championship as the Jackets host the Hernando Tigers at 5:30 p.m.

Only one SHS team has made it this far in the playoffs. That team was the 2001 squad that loss to Tupelo 4-1 in Clinton.

Starkville head coach Brian Bennett views the Tigers as he did second round opponent Oxford.

"They have a couple of good forwards up top and pretty steady goal keeper in the back," said 14th year coach Bennett. "I would probably rate him very similar to Oxford's goal keeper, probably a little bit better taker of free kicks and punts. They have some good players here and there. It's a solid team. They didn't make here by luck."

There was a lot of motivation leading into the second round game. Home field advantage seems to be one of the keys to this game.

"It's a quick turnaround," Bennett said. "We are going to treat it just like that Oxford game. The motivation is playing at home definitely. Just try to get the crowds out here and that is always a big motivation."

Most of the Jackets have been playing together since they were young. None of them want the season to end tonight.

"Well most of us have been playing together since we were like six, seven-years old," junior Taylor Wise said. "There are like seven or eight of our starters are seniors and it just keeps us wanting to go. No one wants this to be our last game."

Sophomore Juan Salazer will have a couple more opportunities to reach the state title game, but he believes this is the year of the Yellowjackets.

"We are very, very excited about tomorrow," Salazer said. "Everybody has their hopes up. We have been excited since the beginning. Since we have so many seniors, everyone wants to win. This is our year right here."

The Tigers beat Neshoba Central 5-1 and Ridgeland 2-0 to get to make it this far.
Bennett's key for the game is composure.

"Whatever team has the most composure, keeps their head," Bennett said of what matters at this point. "It's a nervous time, if you don't win you're done and you're that close. I think whatever team keeps their head and not let it get the best of them will do the best."

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