The Meridian Star
Don't wake up the West Lauderdale boys soccer team — not yet.
The Knights continued their dream season Tuesday night, taking down rival Newton County 1-0 in the South State championship game in Collinsville to advance to the 4A state championship where they will face Pontotoc on Saturday.
“I couldn't be more proud of these guys,” West Lauderdale head coach Bryan Miley said. “It ain't got nothing to do with me, it ain't got a dang thing to do with me, it's all them.”
West Lauderdale had plenty of opportunities early in the game, including in the eighth minute, when midfielder Chris Mallette just missed scoring the game's first goal sending the ball just wide off the right post. Five minutes later, West Lauderdale's Tyler Germany got behind a kick, blasting it five yards from the top of the box and sending it just above crossbar bar.
Newton County students had some fun with Germany, chanting “We love Lacy” at the West Lauderdale standout. Lacy is the first name of Germany's girlfriend, who also attends West Lauderdale.
However, the heckling would not affect the Knight's leading scorer, as Germany kept the Cougars busy tallying three shots on goal on the night.
“When they do that, it just gets me going,” Germany said. “It doesn't affect me in any way but get me ready to play.”
Newton County got its first break just before the half when West whiffed on a kick creating a breakaway for the Cougars’ Cesar Davis. The Newton County forward was unable to finish on the play, as the two teams went into the half tied at 0-0.
After continuing to trade blows with Newton County, West got the goal it needed 23 minutes into the second half. Lyle Daughtery took the ball up the side and crossed it into the box to Mallette, who knocked it in for the deciding goal.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Mallette said. “Lyle (Daughtery) did all the work, I was just there. Lyle is great at taking the ball down and crossing it. I knew he would work it out.”
The Knights held for the remainder of the game, holding on to beat the Cougars for the third time this season.
“We knew coming in it was going to be an absolute war,” Miley said. “We knew everything about each other, it was just who wanted it more. It is hard to beat a team three time, and I didn't want to play them again. You have to take your hat off to Newton County, they played hard and that's a good team right there.”
West Lauderdale now stands just one win away from taking home the state championship for the first time since 2000 when the Knights won the Class 1A/2A/3A crown. The Knights last reached the title game in 2010 when they fell to St. Stanislaus. A member of the 2009-10 team, Germany said he is determined to have a different experience this year. West Lauderdale plays Pontotoc at 3:30 at Clinton High School.
“It's a dream,” Germany said. “We went a few years ago and got embarrassed, this time we need to go back and take care of business.”