Lady Bulldogs win first North Division title in program history; head to playoffs

Lady Bulldogs win first North Division title in program history; head to playoffs

The Holmes Community College women's soccer team made history Tuesday by winning the first North Division in program history after knocking off Itawamba, 3-0, in Fulton.

Now, the Lady Bulldogs, 13-1, wait and see who they'll play in the MACJC State Tournament at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on Oct. 29. Holmes will play the winner of Itawamba and Gulf Coast who are playing a play-in game this week.

Kendal Walsh, Mary Katherine Campbell and Bailey Harper each scored in the first half Tuesday against Itawamba. The Lady Bulldogs then cruised the rest of the match for the win.

"That's usually a really tough trip when we go there," Noble said. "It's the longest trip we take so sometimes we come out sluggish. We had to reiterate to the girls that we had come out quick and hit them hard and fast and that's what they did. They came out flying around. That really put the game away right there.

"Once you go up 3-0, it's a good feeling," he said. "We settled in and got to play a lot of people and again we held strong defensively. At halftime, the biggest thing we talked about was to stay hungry because the last thing we needed was for them to score early and get that momentum back. The girls kept pressing and stayed disciplined and organized."

Holmes won four straight games to open the season over Co-Lin, Southwest, Hind and Northwest before suffering a 4-0 loss at East Central. After that loss, the Lady Bulldogs then reeled off nine straight wins to finish the year.

"It's a great win for the program and the girls," Noble said. "It's something this school and program been chasing for a while. Just comes back to the character of the girls and the work ethic they put in all year long. We are excited about where we are at and it's all due to their hard work this season. "

Noble credits sophomore leadership, discipline and the team's buying in as keys to success. "They (the sophomores) have brought these freshmen in. We have a lot of freshmen who have played big time minutes. Our leading goal scorer (Walsh) is a freshman, our player with the most assists (Brooke Burrell) is a freshman, and we have freshmen on the back line, up top, and in the midfield. The sophomores brought them in and showed them the expectations.  We play very possession-oriented soccer. We don't play kick ball and they bought into it. We continued improving and we'll continue to do so."

He said the team hates to lose and falling to East Central was a bump in the road. "The loss to East Central was a massive hiccup for us," Noble said. "They hated it. Ever since then we've been after it. It's all about how they came together as a family. They put their personal agendas aside and it's all about the team.

"East Central is a great team," he added. "We went into that feeling confident that whoever won that game would win the division. We played very well for a large part of the game. The division is a great title to win, but I think what we are most happy about is getting that bye, getting the extra rest and sessions in before we go play on the 29th. We have been without Courtney Turner, our quickest player for five games. We have also been without our starting center back, Rachel Hartley for the past two games. With this break, it looks like we will have both back healthy for the playoffs.  The girls are still hungry, they want the state title, and we feel like we have a great shot at it. It's not about the opponent, it is about us. When we play our best, we can play with anyone and that's what we continue to do."

Noble said the play on the defensive side has been huge. "Samantha Abrams has led our back line. She's all over the place, all the time. Sammi's work ethic is unbelievable. She plays 90 minutes for us every single game and organizes us very well. We have two freshman at outside back that have stepped in and played big time minutes. Rachel (Hartley) is a transfer from LaGrange College. She's been massive."

"We've had some big Injuries in our back line and had some people step up --- Tierra Johnson, Jaci Murphy, Anna Hogue before her injury. It's been a next man up situation. They've stayed organized and disciplined. They all do their role so that's why we are so successful. A lot of props goes out to our defenders for keeping the other team off the scoreboard so frequently."

Goalie Emily Murray hasn't given up a goal in nine games this season and had five shutouts in the last six games. "When you have a keeper like Emily in the net, you feel very confident. That's how our team plays as well. We are very lucky to have Emily."

HONORS OFF THE FIELD --- Sophomores Kate Hill and Catherine Petro were recently chosen as sophomore maids in the 2016 Homecoming Court, but with Homecoming being set for the same day as the MACJC State Tournament semis, the two had a choice to make – soccer and Homecoming festivities, and they chose soccer.

"Those two girls are awesome individuals," Noble said. "They are great examples of what this school and program stand for academically and off and on the field. We are proud of both of them. We brought them into the office and asked them what they would choose. They chose soccer. It shows they are here and want to win a state title. The girls are honored to be a part of the homecoming court and hate to miss it. The school has been awesome about the situation.  They have made it where they can participate in a lot of the activities and still be honored at the game."

 
 

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