Sumrall will have to wait at least another year for their first taste of postseason victory in soccer. In the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs on Monday, the clock struck zero on the Lady Bobcats’ comeback attempt versus Poplarville, and the Bobcats then played East Central to overtime, sudden death and penalty kicks, only to fall short in the very end.
In all four years of the program’s existence, neither team has failed to make the postseason, but they’re now a combined 0-8 in playoff games. Regardless, coach Todd Siders says the seniors who closed out their prep careers Monday leave behind a strong legacy.
“I think everybody in Mississippi respects us now and realizes we’re a legitimate program,” Siders said. “When I took the job, it was ‘You might not win a game for five years’, and here we are. Great legacy that they leave behind.”
Poplarville girls 2, Sumrall 1
After a scoreless first half, Poplarville came out with guns blazing to start the second, finding the back of the net twice in the first 10 minutes of the period. In the game’s 60th minute, Sumrall cut the lead to 2-1 off Caragan Childs’ 51st goal of the season.
But in the final 20 minutes of regulation, the Lady Hornets buckled down, and the Lady Bobcats were denied an equalizer.
“There’s never been an elimination game where we were so timid,” Siders said. “We really didn’t press the issue, and I thought it came down to Poplarville wanted to win more than we did. That’s disappointing on me because that falls on me. I didn’t get them prepared enough for that.”
Sumrall finishes the season 16-5-2, while Poplarville (12-5-3) advances to face Richland in the second round.
East Central boys 7, Sumrall 6 (Penalty Kicks)
Like the Lady Bobcats, the Bobcats found themselves down 2-0 in Monday’s second half. East Central had only two shots on goal in the first half, and the Hornets took advantage and connected on both.
“Just two marking mistakes,” Siders said. “We worked on that, and it cost us. All you gotta do is mark one of those, and we win this game.”
Still, the Bobcats made it interesting. In the 58th minute, Sumrall cut the lead to 2-1 off Austin Miller’s fourth goal of the season, and with less than two minutes left in regulation, Graham Rodney delivered the equalizer, sending the match into overtime.
After neither team scored in the overtime or sudden death periods, it went to penalty kicks. Both teams connected on six of their first seven tries. On shot No. 8, Sumrall’s Avery Petro missed, and East Central answered with a make, winning in walk-off fashion.
“You grow old in this profession really quick,” Siders said. “I knew. The boys had done it all year. It didn’t matter what the outcome was or how bad we play or how well we play. They always give effort. Very proud of the effort to come back and make this a match. It was a classic.”
Sumrall finishes the season 14-8, while East Central (9-10) advances to face either Florence or St. Stanislaus in the second round.